A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dear Dracula is a family-friendly movie based on a graphic novel of the same name. It centers on a friendship between a shy boy and kindly Count Dracula, who fears he's lost his touch when it comes to being scary and needs someone to remind him how it's done. For a Halloween movie about such an iconic monster, there's no scariness to fear; in fact, the story is more funny and heartwarming than it is frightful. Themes of self-confidence and kindness are strong throughout, and there are brief instances of bullying and teasing you can use to start conversations with your kids about those and other social issues.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DEAR DRACULA tells the story of Sam (voiced by Nathan Gamble), an introverted boy with an affinity for monsters who decides to write to Count Dracula (Ray Liotta) to ask for a vampire action figure he wants. His request is granted (sort of) when the Count himself shows up on his doorstep, accompanied by his sidekick, Myro (Emilio Estevez), just in time for the Halloween festivities on Sam's street. But try as he might, the Count just can't seem to scare up any fright in neighborhood trick-or-treaters, leading him to question his abilities. Meanwhile, Sam is pining for a friendship beyond that he shares with his pet spider, Webber, but can't seem to get up the nerve to talk to his neighbor, Emma (Ariel Winter). When these two unlikely pals pledge to solve each other's problems, it's anybody's guess as to how things will turn out.
Is it any good?
Halloween specials tend to be as fleeting as the buckets of candy that disappear in a matter of days, but this is a delightful addition to TV's holiday repertoire. It deserves a place in your family's Halloween viewing traditions. Based on a graphic novel by Joshua Williamson and Vincente Navarrate, Dear Dracula is light on fright and heavy on comedy, cleverness, and fantastic messages about the value of friendship and the satisfaction of self-esteem. Sam and the Count discover that they may not be able to solve their own problems alone, but that each one has some expertise to offer the other in his quest for happiness.
What starts as a cute premise for a story quickly blossoms into a full-blown treat for the whole family, thanks to visually pleasing animation and exceptional voice artists who capture the essence of the characters. From Marion Ross as Sam's spunky grandma to Liotta as the curmudgeonly Count, there's a delightful surprise around every corner of this funny, sweet Halloween story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about self-confidence. How do the Count and Sam regain their confidence in Dear Dracula? What causes them to lose confidence? How does having a good friend change their outlook?
Kids: What kinds of things scare you? How does familiarity with them help you conquer that fear? How does Sam deal with his fear of being around other kids?
If you had the chance to meet a book or movie character, who would it be? What would you like to know about him or her? Do you think you'd be friends? What do you have in common?
- On DVD or streaming: October 9, 2012
- Cast: Emilio Estevez, Nathan Gamble, Ray Liotta
- Director: Chad Van De Keere
- Studio: ARC Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 60 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.