Movie Review: There's Something in the Barn (2023)

Synopsis: After inheriting a farm in Norway, American Bill Nordheim relocates with his reluctant family, with plans to remodel the barn and rent it out as an exotic lodging spot. Bill's son, Lucas, soon discovers the barn is occupied by a barn elf, a creature with a reputation of being friendly to those who take care of him but unfriendly to those who disrespect him. Unfortunately for the Nordheim family, nobody believes Billy and soon the elf is angry enough to call in his friends to violently remove them from their new home.

Who's in it? The movie stars Martin StarrAmrita AchariaKiran Shah, Townes Bunner and Zoe Winther-Hansen.

Review: My wife and I attempted to watch two other movies yesterday evening. The first was too dark and we just couldn't see it, even after closing the curtains. The second was just plain awful and we turned it off after about thirty minutes. Finally, after much searching, we settled on this film, despite having some doubts, because my wife is a big fan of collecting gnomes and the barn elf (Shah) looked just like one. As it turns out, it was a great choice.

The movie has a good mix of action/suspense and comedy. It's a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously but at the same time doesn't cross a line where it is too goofy to be entertaining. 

I think the thing I liked best was the elf wasn't necessarily a bad person. The movie treated him more like a wild animal protecting its home. At first, he was willing to do things like shovel snow and chop wood in exchange for cookies given to him by Lucas (Bunner) and only turned hostile when the rest of the family, especially the clueless Bill (Starr) made life uncomfortable for him.

I usually don't like movies that focus on family disfunction, but it worked this time around. Bill reminded us both of Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) from Christmas Vacation, trying to find the good in everything while the rest of his family was clearly miserable, even making his ultra-supportive wife snap. It helped fill in some of the slower moments in the movie and gave the characters a surprising amount of depth.

I also personally loved the twist involving Bill being quick to tout the benefits of living in Norway (mistaking the elf's contributions for services his tax dollars paid for) only to question the country's sanity when he couldn't find a single person who owned a gun. My wife and I both laughed at that part, much more than we would have even expected.

One other thing I found I liked about this movie was the ending. Too many films focus on setting up a sequel. This movie left the door open for one but at the same time brought a reasonable amount of closure, though I'm not sure you could call it a happy ending considering people died. I've seen too many good movies ruined by bad endings, so I appreciated that.

Final Opinion: This is a surprisingly good film with a great mix of comedy and action. My wife and were entertained throughout and, even though it would probably be classified as a Christmas movie, would recommend it any time of year.

My Grade: A


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