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Magic Tree House
Magic Tree House.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Phil Lord
Christopher Miller
Produced by Audrey Wells
Jinko Gotoh
Phil Lord
Christopher MIller
Dan Lin
Roy Lee
Screenplay by David Gordon Green
Phil Lord
Christopher Miller
Story by Elliot M. Bour
Saul Andrew Blinkoff
David Gordon Green
Phil Lord
Christopher Miller
Based on Magic Tree House
by Mary Pope Osborne
Starring Owen Laramore
Lulu Wilson
Dick Van Dyke
Danny DeVito
Sandra Oh
Masi Oka
BD Wong
Cedric the Entertainer
Andy Dick
Kathy Najimy
Music by Hans Zimmer
John Powell
Edited by Pam Ziegenhagen
H. Lee Peterson
William J. Caparella
Jim May
Ivan Bilancio
Production
companies
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Wonder
Studios

Walden Media
Lord Miller Productions
Rideback
Vertigo Entertainment
Reel FX Animation
Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date May 4, 2018 (China)
May 11, 2018 (United
States)
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million
Box office $785 million


Magic Tree House is a 2018 American computer-animated wuxia action comedy adventure fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Wonder Studios and Walden Media and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed, co-produced, and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from a screenplay by David Gordon Green, it is based on the best-selling book series of the same name by Mary Pope Osborne and features the voices of Owen Laramore, Lulu Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, Danny DeVito, Sandra Oh, Masi Oka, BD Wong, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Dick, and Kathy Najimy. In the film, Jack and his sister Annie set out to become Master Librarians by visiting China and collecting three orbs to defeat an evil overlord named Zigness. However, troubles arise when Zigness abducts Annie, prompting him to go on a mission across China to save her and is unwittingly certified as the warrior that was destined to defeat Zigness.

Magic Tree House saw a theatrical release on May 4, 2018 in China, and on May 11 in the United States. The film received critical acclaim for its animation, musical score, vocal performances (particularly those of Laramore, Wilson, Van Dyke, and DeVito), respect for Chinese culture, and its faithfulness to the source material. It was also a commercial success, grossing $785 million worldwide against its $100 million budget. At the 91st Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature. It was also the fourth fully animated film in history to receive such a nomination for Best Picture after Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3.

Plot

In Frog Creek Woods, Pennsylvania, Jack (Owen Laramore) surprises his younger sister Annie (Lulu Wilson) with a book for her ninth birthday. Later, they visit the Magic Tree House. Morgan la Fey (Kathy Najimy) assigns them to a mission to bring her three power orbs. Jack and Annie point at the China book and wish to go there, making the tree house spin faster and faster until everything becomes absolutely still.

They enter a cave, where they retrieve the first Orb and spot someone they learn is and overlord named Zigness (Danny DeVito), who plots the get the orbs and rule over China. He subsequently kidnaps Annie. Jack arrives at Kretschmann (Dick Van Dyke)'s valley on Mount Lu, where he grabs the second orb and unintentionally ends up in the midst of a tournament that demonstrates the one destined to defeat Zigness. To the astonishment of everyone present, Jack most of all, Kretschmann's mentor and friend Nepcar (Cedric the Entertainer) proclaims Jack as the chosen martial arts warrrior.

Unwilling to accept Nepcar's decision and believing it to be an accident, Kretschmann tries to dispose of Jack with a harsh training regime. Jack successfully overcomes the regime, which impresses Kretschmann, Phillip (BD Wong), Kyle (Masi Oka), and Asia (Sandra Oh). That night, Asia tells Jack that Zigness was found by Krestschmann as an infant and showed talent in martial arts as he grew older. However, when Nepcar denied him the three Orbs, he betrayed Kretschmann and tried to take the first Orb by force. Though Nepcar was able to stop him, Zigness' betrayal caused Kretschmann to become cold and distant.

Meanwhile, the ninjas' friend Bazahr the Chinese sparrowhawk (Andy Dick), tells Jack that Annie escaped from Zigness. After successfully training Jack, Kretschmann decides Jack is ready to receive a scroll, but its blank, reflective surfaces does not reveal any powerful secrets. Jack reveals the truth to Kretschmann and his students, and leaves to find Annie and defeat Zigness on his own. In a pep talk, Nepcar encourages Kretschmann to keep believing in Jack, then passes on to the heavens and evaporates into a stream of peach blossoms.

Jack and Annie reunite, with Jack learning that the true message of the scroll is believing in yourself. They return to Mount Lu, only to find Kretschmann injured and defeated by Zigness. Zigness, greedy for power, is unable to understand the scroll's message, and attacks Jack. Jack trounces his adversary with his martial arts skills and uses the Wuxi Finger Hold to vanquish Zigness. With Zigness defeated and the three orbs collected, Kretschmann, Nepcar, Asia, Phillip, and Kyle praise Jack and Annie as true masters, and allow them to head back to the Magic Tree House. Back in Frog Creek Woods, Jack and Annie leave the three orbs out for Morgan. As Jack and Annie head home, Annie confesses her love for Jack, and the two share a kiss. The next morning, Jack and Annie meet up with Morgan at the Frog Creek Woods Library and become Master Librarians.

Cast

  • Owen Laramore as Jack, a ten-and-a-half-year-old boy and Annie's older brother.
  • Lulu Wilson as Annie, a nine-year-old girl and Jack's younger sister
  • Danny DeVito as Overlord Zigness, Kretschmann's aggressive and zealous arch-nemesis and former student and adoptive son.
  • Dick Van Dyke as Sensei Kretschmann, the well-meaning but stubborn sensei of Asia, Phillip, and Kyle with a critical manner.
  • Sandra Oh as Asia, a ninja and the only female member of the trio.
  • Masi Oka as Kyle, a ninja and one of the two male members of the trio.
  • BD Wong as Phillip, a ninja and one of the two male members of the trio.
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Nepcar, Kretschmann's friend and mentor who chooses Jack as the warrior that was destined to stop Zigness.
  • Andy Dick as Bazahr, a giant hawk and a friend of the ninjas.
  • Kathy Najimy as Morgan la Fey, the owner of the Magic Tree House.

Box office

In the United States, Magic Tree House was released alongside Life of the Party and Breaking In, and was projected to gross $134 million in its opening weekend. It grossed $361 million in the United States and Canada, and $424 million in other territories. It ended its theatrical run on July 27, 2018, having to have grossed $785 million worldwide, and, produced on an $100 million budget, it was a commercial success at the box office.

Critical response

Magic Tree House received universal acclaim from critics, who praised the performances of Laramore and Wilson while praising it as a return-to-form for Walt Disney Wonder Studios. The film holds a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 240 reviews. The consensus reads, "Impressively animated and led by two winning performances by Owen Laramore and Lulu Wilson, this adaptation lives up to the youthful spirit of Mary Pope Osborne's works". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 93 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.

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