Magic Tree House is a 2018 American computer-animated wuxia comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Wonder Studios in partnership with Scholastic Entertainment and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Matthew O'Callaghan and written by David Gordon Green, Gary Marsh, Gary Krisel, Bob Iger, and Derek Stephen Prince, the film is an adaptation/continuation of the books by Mary Pope Osborne. The film features the voices of Owen Laramore, Lulu Wilson, Danny DeVito, Dick Van Dyke, Sandra Oh, Masi Oka, BD Wong, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Dick, and Kathy Najimy.
|Magic Tree House|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew O'Callaghan|
|Produced by||Gary Marsh|
|Written by||David Gordon Green|
Derek Stephen Prince
|Based on||Magic Tree House|
Mary Pope Osborne
Dick Van Dyke
Cedric the Entertainer
|Narrated by||Owen Laramore|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Edited by||H. Lee Peterson|
|Production company||Walt Disney Pictures|
Walt Disney Wonder Studios
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|Release date||July 15, 2018|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||$225 million|
Following the release of Disney In The House: Introduction in 2017, Walt Disney Wonder Studios acquired the rights for an animated film based on the Magic Tree House works, with Laramore and Wilson as the voices of Jack and Annie. Despite having a plot that is mostly different from Osborne's works, it has some relatively faithful elements. Hans Zimmer, who had worked on the first four Walt Disney Wonder Studios features, returned to score Magic Tree House.
The film went into theatrical release in the United States on July 15, 2018 with praise for its story, animation, humor, and the vocal performances of Laramore and Wilson. It was also commercially successful, grossing $225 million worldwide on an $80 million budget. At the 91st Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Song, 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.
In Frog Creek Woods, Pennsylvania, Jack (Owen Laramore) and his younger sister Annie (Lulu Wilson) visit the Magic Tree House. Morgan la Fey (Kathy Najimy) assigns them to a mission to bring her three power orbs. With five days to get them, Jack and Annie grab the China book, point at it, and wish to go there, making the tree house spin faster and faster until everything becomes absolutely still.They enter a cave and retrieve the first Orb and spot a guy named Overlord Zingess (Danny DeVito). Suddenly, he secretly makes his giant hawk, Bazahr (Andy Dick), kidnap Annie.
Jack tries to follow Annie, but ends up at the Kretschmann Ninja Valley where he inadvertently crashes into just about everything before getting caught in the valley's telephone wires. Taken in the valley's court of law by security guard Nepcar (Cedric the Entertainer) the next morning, Jack confesses to ninjas Asia (Sandra Oh), Phillip (BD Wong), and Kyle (Masi Oka), and their sensei, Kretschmann (Dick Van Dyke), that Annie was taken away, and the damage was an accident. When he finds the second orb, Kretschmann, Asia, Phillip, Kyle, and Nepcar deem him a secret ninja despite his failures to overcome his training.
They tell him that Zigness was the one of the three ninjas until Asia displaced him, and they expelled him from the valley, resulting in his hatred of children. He also kidnapped Annie as part of his plan to get revenge on Kretschmann for expelling him. Kretschmann makes Asia, Phillip, and Kyle suit him up as a dragon ninja to help him learn to fly. He succeeds in doing so. They find the final orb, but Bazahr takes it. Jack retrieves the orb and pokes Bazahr's wing. Bazahr bumps into a bridge and is killed, breaking it in the process, but Jack, Asia, Phillip, and Kyle manage to jump to safety. Jack sees Annie being carried away by balloons and flies after her. Annie's balloons are inevitably popped by spikes, but Jack grabs her hand and carries her to the ninjas.
Zigness grows fed up and escapes in his elevator. Annie tries to wear it down, but it takes her. Annie fights Zigness, who threatens to push Annie off the edge, but Jack intervenes. At the top of Zigness' tower, Jack and Annie overpower Zigness, and, with help from Kretschmann, they run to his flying boat. Zigness tries to catch them, but his leg get caught in some balloons, and he falls to his death. With the three orbs in a bag, Kretschmann, Nepcar, Asia, Phillip, and Kyle bring Jack and Annie back to the Magic Tree House. Back in Frog Creek Woods, they leave the three orbs out for Morgan. Jack and Annie walk home and share a hug. The next morning, Jack and Annie meet up with Morgan at the Frog Creek Woods Library and become Master Librarians.
- Owen Laramore as Jack, a ten-and-a-half-year-old boy and Annie's older brother. He is the film's protagonist and the main narrator.
- Lulu Wilson as Annie, a nine-year-old girl and Jack's younger sister. She is the film's deuteragonist.
- Danny DeVito as Overlord Zigness, Kretschmann's arch-nemesis who despises children. He is the film's antagonist.
- Dick Van Dyke as Sensei Kretschmann, the sensei of Asia, Phillip, and Kyle. He is the film's tritagonist.
- Sandra Oh as Asia, a ninja and the only female member of the trio. She is the film's tetartagonist.
- 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 the valley's sheriff and guardian.
- Andy Dick as Bazahr, a giant hawk and Zigness' companion. He is the film's secondary antagonist.
- Kathy Najimy as Morgan la Fey, the owner of the Magic Tree House.
- Alyvia Alyn Lind, Ava Acres, and Pierce Gagnon as field trip class
- Kari Walhgren as Teacher
- Dee Bradley Baker as Balloon Man
- Corey Burton as Umpire
- Bonnie Hunt as Mom
- Billy Boyd as Dad
Magic Tree House opened theatrically on July 15, 2018, and was projected to gross $55 million in its opening weekend, finishing behind Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and Incredibles 2. It grossed $110 million in the United States and Canada, and $115 million in other territories. It ended its theatrical run on October 1, 2018, having to have grossed $225 million worldwide, and, produced on an $80 million budget, it was a commercial success at the box office.
The film holds a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 154 reviews. The consensus reads, "Big, breathtaking, and beautifully animated, this Magic Tree House adaption with Owen Laramore and Lulu Wilson lives up to Mary Pope Osborne's works in its own way". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 91 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.
Shawn Levy of The Oregonian gave the film five stars, saying, "Magic Tree House is a heartwarming adaption, with outstanding vocal performances, beautiful animation, and consistent humor". Kevin Carr of Film Threat praised the performances of Owen Laramore and Lulu Wilson, saying, "Owen Laramore and Lulu Wilson are such good friends. They are two good young actors. They should work together more". Anna Smith of Empire also gave the film five stars. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun Times gave the film "Two Thumbs Up". Jess Hassenger of A.V. Club called the film "exciting and culturally enjoyable" and lauded out Hans Zimmer's musical score.