Monster Family (also known as Happy Family) is a 2017 British-German computer-animated horror comedy film directed and produced by Holger Tappe and co-written by David Safier. It is based on David Safier's children's book Happy Family. The film stars Emily Watson, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Celia Imrie, Catherine Tate, and Jason Isaacs
The film begins in Transylvania, where Count Dracula laments about his loneliness with his three bat servants. Suddenly, he receives a phone call from Emma Wishbone, who has mistakenly called him instead of a monster costume store. Rotten luck bedevils Emma until she reaches her bookstore, where she complains to her co-worker Cheyenne of all the troubles plaguing her family:
- Her own bookstore is in dire financial straits.
- Her son Max is bullied in school and is a social outcast due to his nerdy mannerisms.
- Her daughter Fay is sarcastic and rude, caring only about boys.
- Her husband Frank is constantly overworked and sleep-deprived.
Seeking to foster a sense of family, Emma makes a handful of monster costumes for her family - her as a vampire, Frank as Frankenstein's monster, Fay as a mummy, and Max as a werewolf - to wear to a monster-themed costume party presented by Cheyenne. Though the family is clearly not in the mood for such an outing, they nevertheless reach their destination. They unexpectedly receive a star treatment only to discover that they have been mistaken for a monster-themed rock-and-roll band that was meant to perform at the party. Security guards deposit the family into the alleyway behind the building, where Emma finally snaps.
The bad evening only grows worse when Baba Yaga arrives to turn Emma into a vampire with a transformative curse. The spell works, but unexpectedly turns the rest of the family into the monsters they were portraying. Enraged, Emma chases down Baba Yaga while her family splits up to visit various spots around the city. Fay goes to her crush's house only to be rejected due to her appearance while Max stalks and scares the school bully. Emma eventually captures Baba Yaga and demands to have her family returned to normal only to discover the old witch's amulet - the source of her power - has worn out and must be recharged at the London Eye.
After Baba Yaga escapes, the Wishbone family regroups at home and they realize they must catch Baba Yaga to return to normal. The Wishbones reach the airport, with help from Cheyenne - who is unafraid of the Wishbones' new appearance. Fay manages to get them on the plane after learning she can hypnotize people, which she does with abandon. On board the flight, Emma begins to spiral into the more violent side of vampirism as her bloodlust kicks in and she attempts to bite one of her fellow passengers. A timely intervention from Dracula halts this and he absconds with the confused and blood-hungry Emma aboard his personal jet leaving her family on the passenger plane.
As her family wonders where she is, Dracula tries to talk Emma into running away with him. She initially considers due to not being happy with the issues with her family. But when she refuses, Dracula unceremoniously tosses her from his jet.
As Emma regroups with her family by the London Eye, Dracula gets upset and tells his hunchback servant Renfield to prepare his snowflake machine to destroy the world in retaliation.
Meanwhile, Baba Yaga gets her amulet charged. When Emma confronts her and tries to take the amulet, Baba sends the family to Egypt. Cheyenne tries to help, but she ends up befriending and helping Baba Yaga. She tells Cheyenne about Dracula's plan to turn Emma into a monster. Baba Yaga also tells her about how he imprisoned her and said he would free her if she did what he asked. The only way for them to return to normal was to be happy as themselves despite their appearance.
Emma and the family hallucinates an oasis while in the deserts of Egypt, but soon snap out of it and realize that they have been unknowingly walking in a circle.
Dracula shows off the snowflake's power to his servant and swears revenge on the humans.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Max and Fay get angry at Emma and go off on their own in separate directions. Emma then gets angry at her husband and pushes him away.
Dracula had been watching her. Seeing this, Dracula goes to get her as she wanders around until the bloodlust finally takes over. She attacks a couple of tourists, but Dracula narrowly saves them and takes her away to his castle.
Meanwhile, Frank comes across a stranded Jeep filled with models and Fay meets Imhotep. Imhotep tells Fay she is pretty and shows her how to use her mummy powers to become a sandstorm. Max gets mistaken for a piece of food by a dromedary and he chases it to a desert hotel with glass pyramids, where Frank also happens to be.
Dracula seeks to romance Emma in his castle. They dance. Though she refuses his advances at first, she eventually agrees to stay. After being shown to her beautiful new room, Emma realizes she misses her family. Cheyenne and Baba Yaga then suddenly appear and explain the truth about what Dracula had done to Baba Yaga.
Frank, Fay, and Max separately come to realize that their newfound luck does not compare to when they are together as a family. Fay learns that Imhotep plans to take over the world, Max learns that having people scared of you is not very fun, and Frank learns to be a better husband. Baba Yaga and Cheyenne then transport them to Dracula's castle.
Renfield tells them that if Emma does not marry Dracula, he will shoot a magical snowflake into the sun, causing all life on earth to die - except for vampires as they do not require sunlight.
The family confronts Dracula, with the intention of pouring homemade holy water in his bath. Though they lose initially, they eventually turn themselves human by realizing their love and need for each other and becoming happy. They then gain the upper hand by exposing Dracula to sunlight and permanently freezing him with his snowflake.
The Wishbones return home and their circumstances change. Frank stands up for himself at work after putting a photo of their family adventure and the frozen Dracula on his desk, Max stops getting bullied, and Fay meets a nerdy guy in a knight's costume at a costume party that Emma throws at home. Baba Yaga, Renfield, and the three bats crash the party. The family takes another photo together, showing their happiness.
Why It Sucks
- The movie tries to be funny, but more often than not, comes off as boring, awkward, cringey, and outright distressing rather than comedic.
- The animation is rather messy, and the characters' movements are unnatural.
- The English dub is terrible. The voice acting is awful, and sometimes, the voices don't synch up with the lip movement. And the original version isn't much better.
- Also, if the film is German, why is everyone dubbed to be British?
- The characters are incredibly unlikable and cliched.
- Fay, arguably the worst character, is a stereotypical bratty, self-absorbed teenage girl who's always insulting her family and only thinks about boys. There's even a scene where she, for no reason, starts hitting and kicking her little brother. To the point of throwing him down the stairs.
- Frank is the general workaholic husband who spends so much time at his job, he can't spend time with his family. And to add insult to injury, his defining trait is farting.
- Max, while he isn't mean or selfish, is little more than the stereotypical nerd who lacks self-confidence and is bullied because of it.
- Emma is the overworked wife desperately trying to keep her disaster of a family together. While she isn't exactly "unlikable" (for the majority of the film anyway), there is one scene where she ends up getting into a fight with her daughter and ends up driving her away, and when Max leaves as well, she drives Frank away for no apparent reason.
- Dracula himself is hunting down Emma and trying to seduce her for the stupidest reason imaginable. She accidentally called him while trying to call the costume store, ended up saying "I want your teeth", and he suddenly goes entirely bonkers over her! No joke!
- Most characters, in general, are nasty and just randomly start acting hostile towards one another for no reason.
- The film has a lot of gross-out elements, such as when Emma's coffee cup gets pooped on by a bird, which the audience gets a nice close-up of. And not long after, she steps in a poop bucket and it splatters everywhere inside her bookstore, and then there's the aforementioned fact that 95% of the time Frank's on-screen, he happens to be passing gas. It doesn't even stop there! As later, Baba Yaga burps in Emma's face and one of Dracula's bats sneezes onto another.
- The editing is intriguingly choppy and terrible.
- And speaking of the either boring, awkward, cringey, or outright distressing scenes mentioned at WIS #1, on top of the ones already mentioned, we have a scene where it appears that Emma's co-worker, Cheyenne, has hung herself, a scene where Cheyenne puts her bare foot on Emma's face (which happens not long after the previous one), a scene where the family gets mad at their mom for trying to bring them all together for a fun outing, they end up embarrassing themselves by pretending to be the band their mistaken for at said outing, and, pretty much almost every, single, scene afterward. There's simply too much to list here.
- The humor is cringeworthy and, unlike other movies, actually affects the plot.
- The message at the end to trust who you are and not care what others say felt like it was just randomly thrown in so the movie has an Aesop.
- On top of that, it feels rather overused.
- The animation, while mainly unappealing, is still very detailed.
- Despite the message being somewhat generic and just being thrown in to give the movie a nice message for the kids, it's is still an important one.
- The family does redeem themselves in the end, although as aforementioned, their character development is still rushed.
- The idea of a family being turned into monsters and having to find a witch to turn back to normal is an interesting concept for a film.
Monster Family was heavily panned by critics for the lack of kids and family entertainment. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 10% based on 21 reviews, and an average rating of 2.3/5. The critical consensus reads: "Monster Family promises a family-friendly animated monster mash, but succeeds only in delivering a viewing experience so lackluster that parents may find it genuinely frightening."
The film was a box office bomb. It grossed $127,259 in the US, £443,269 in the UK, $4,692,430 in Germany and $21,178,934 in other countries for a worldwide total of $26,441,982.