“A Monster Calls” deals with the issue of a loved one dying, but does so in a bizarre way. The movie is based on the novel by Patrick Ness. A “monster” tree (voiced by Liam Neeson) shows up every night at 12:07 a.m. to see Connor. At first it is difficult to figure out if the tree is a friend or foe. He definitely scares Connor (Lewis MacDougall), a young boy who is dealing with his mother Lizzie’s (Felicity Jones) sickness due to cancer. So, the first time Connor meets the tree he is terrified. At times the monster is seen in Connor’s nightmare, and at other times he seems to really be there. In addition, Connor must deal with the awkwardness he experiences with his grandmother, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. They don’t have much in common except for Lizzie.
Connor’s dad, now living in America, comes home to see the boy as he knows how seriously ill his ex- wife is. The monster tells Connor three stories but adds that Connor has to tell the fourth story. The three stories the monster shares are all animated and each contain a twist. An area of concern for viewers of this film is that the monster encourages Connor to release his anger, but Connor does so in destructive ways. In one case, he destroys his grandmother’s beloved grandfather clock, not to mention some furniture, and he does so with a baseball bat. His dad tells him it is “okay” and he won’t be punished. In another scene, he has had enough of a bully and punches him repeatedly in the face until it is stated the kid wound up in the hospital.
Connor knows deep inside that his mother is not getting better, and the movie concludes with Connor telling his mother his feelings about her impending death. In one scene, she tries on wigs as she has lost a lot of hair due to chemotherapy. As stated, Connor knows she is seriously ill and how he deals with it is the main theme of the movie. The film contains a few touching scenes. However, due to the concerns we have about this dark movie, including such comments as “Complicated truth makes lies necessary,” and a step-grandmother wishing to marry the grandson so she would be queen, we regrettably are withholding our Dove Family-Approved Seal from the film. Sadly, much of it is a depressing story.