A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Much of movie is about growing up -- both growing up too quickly, also saying goodbye to your childhood. Friendship, guilt, and facing your fears are other prominent themes. Various pranks and misdemeanors take place -- innocent parties are left to take the blame.
Positive Role Models
Frances is smart and approaches life in an organized, straightforward fashion. But she also hides her feelings. She shows courage when having to face her fears. Larry is mischievous, often causing Frances to inadvertently get into trouble. But ultimately his mission is to help Frances, which he does, even when it endangers himself. Boogeyman has no conscience, framing, scaring, kidnapping children.
Violence & Scariness
Characters look scary and behave like they are, causing many jumpy moments. A character is left hanging by the fingers from a roof -- before falling to floor unharmed -- smashing a window in process. A swarm of bees attacks someone. A child is grabbed from under a bed, taken into an imaginary world and kept in a sack. A fight ensues between two characters; no punches are thrown, but one tries to pierce the other with extended fingernail. A character is electrocuted but is unharmed. A character's "boogeyman" shell explodes. Toy guns. A young child is in remission from leukemia.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some discussion about finding someone "cute." A news reporter is referred to as a "hottie." Two characters kiss. A character refers to a sculpture by saying, "That's a lovely little bust you have there," which momentarily confuses someone who thinks they are referring to their chest.
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A character is called a "skanky creep."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character smokes from a pipe that produces bubbles.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Don't Look Under the Bed is a Disney TV movie that contains many jumps and scares. Younger children may find the boogeyman (Steve Valentine) too scary -- his prosthetics, makeup, and demeanor are reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddie Krueger. His behavior also starts with playful pranks -- egging a teacher's car, a school bus being flooded -- but escalates into him grabbing a kid from under his bed, taking him into an imaginary world, and keeping him captive in a sack. When Frances (Erin Chambers) and Larry (Ty Hodges) -- who himself is slowly transforming into a boogeyman -- go to his rescue, more peril ensues. This includes a fight between the boogeyman and Larry. Larry is almost pierced by a dramatically extended fingernail before electrocuting the boogeyman -- who survives. Frances' younger brother Darwin (Jake Sakson) is in remission from leukemia, and part of the plot revolves around Frances' guilt at not providing him with her bone marrow. Another key component to the plot is growing up, either too soon or accepting that your childhood is over. There is some tween romance -- flirting and one kiss -- and an adult joke based around the word "bust." But overall, it's all innocent fun, with the only concern being how sensitive young viewers are to scares. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This made-for-TV Disney movie is a fun adventure for tweens who like to be scared. Its TV movie credentials mean it's a little rough around the edges. The supporting cast are hit and miss and the dialogue clumsy -- particularly some of the boogeyman's rhymes, which feel forced. But Chambers' Frances is a likable lead, and younger viewers will find plenty of humor in Hodges' Larry. Valentine's boogeyman is also suitably scary -- if a little too scary for some. Don't Look Under the Bed touches on some poignant and relatable themes. Front and center is the balance between growing up too quickly and recognizing when it's time to say goodbye to your childhood. It's handled admirably, although the subplot around Frances' guilt over her brother Darwin's leukemia feels out of place and even cruel.
It was made in 1999 with a modest budget, and there are far better offerings available in the tween scary genre. Comparisons will be made to Stranger Things and Goosebumps, although it's actually closer to the '90s TV series Eerie, Indiana, both in tone and in atmosphere. But there's a certain nostalgic charm about this Disney scare-fest. Families should close the curtains, snuggle up, and let their imaginations run free. Just don't look under the bed!
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