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Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails Movie Poster Image
Ghostly adventure has more mental health jokes than scares.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Teamwork, friendship, and courage are key themes. But references to mental health are played for laughs, including the suggestion that a character should be put in a straitjacket. And there are misguided jokes about being short and climate change.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tom shows courage in overcoming his fears and makes a speech about how much he loves his family. The reclusive Hetty learns the importance of friendship. On the other hand, Tom is referred to as "odd," "unhinged," and "nervy," and his parents treat him as such. In one scene, Tom pretends to be "loopy" and "nuts," in order to fool his parents. Tom's father nervously discusses cross-dressing with him after finding him in a tutu.

Violence & Scariness

Moments of peril, with some cartoony scary moments. The finale has the scariest scene: A giant CGI ice monster eats a character, although they're later found safe and sound. In another scene, a ghost is melted by having orange juice poured on it -- this is later used as a torture technique. Characters use plasma guns.

Sexy Stuff

Brief kiss between consenting adults. Two sex workers are seen outside Hetty's home. A character is seen in just a towel. The much older Hetty makes a joke about 11-year-old Tom not being her type. In another scene, a man (accidentally) talks about a woman's "arse" being in his hands.

Language

Language includes "stupid cow," "hell," "God" (as an exclamation), "arse," "nincompoop," and "snot rag." Tom is regularly called "psycho boy" and "freak" by his sister.

Consumerism

An iPod is used as an ongoing prop and is referenced by name. YouTube and eBay are also mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails is a supernatural adventure with a few scares. It tackles issues such as friendship and teamwork. The movie's main character is Tom (Milo Parker), an 11-year-old boy who must show courage in facing his fears. Characters find themselves in perilous situations that may frighten younger viewers. But the ghosts are CGI, and most of the violence and scary moments are handled in a cartoonish manner, such as when a ghost is melted by having orange juice squirted at him. Language includes "hell" and "arse," and insults like "psycho boy," "unhinged," and "freak" are used to describe Tom, which is problematic. The movie also includes misguided jokes about straitjackets and characters being "loopy" and "nuts," as well as jokes about being short and climate change. Two sex workers have very minor roles, there's kissing, and a character is seen in just a towel after getting out of the shower.

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What's the story?

In GHOSTHUNTERS: ON ICY TRAILS, Tom (Milo Parker) is an 11-year-old boy who suffers from extreme nerves. After finding a ghost called Hugo (Bastian Pastewka) in his basement, Tom turns to ghost hunter Hetty Cuminseed (Anke Engelke) for help. But Tom and Hetty soon discover that Hugo isn't the problem. The three must join forces to stop an AIG, or "Ancient Ice Ghost," from freezing the city. With Hetty's former partner also on their tail, the trio have their work cut out for them.

Is it any good?

Despite the promise of ghosts, adventure, and laughs, this is a boring affair with iffy jokes about mental health. The action in Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails centers around an unlikely trio who, in their own way, are all misunderstood. Tom is scared of everything, something the movie continually pokes fun at. Hetty's mood swings make her difficult to warm up to. And then there's Hugo, a friendly ghost who bears more than a passing resemblance to Slimer from Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, while Slimer had charm, Hugo is just annoying.

The film isn't short on jokes; they just fail to land. The funniest lines are references to other films, but jokes about Scarface and The Matrix are strange reference points for a kid audience. Themes about friendship and teamwork are central to the plot, but they're hammered home in such a way that they feel forced. In one scene, Tom talks about how much he loves his family, but it's hard to believe, given how badly they treat him -- especially his sister, whose behavior goes beyond sibling bickering. By the time Hetty mentions Hogwarts, you're left wondering why you're not watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone instead.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about friendship and teamwork in Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails. Why are those important character strengthsHow can you use media to teach kids teamwork?

  • How does Tom's character develop in the movie? How does he show courage?

  • What is the relationship like between Tom and his family? Why is Tom upset by how they treat him? How would you feel in his place?

  • How did the film's jokes about mental health strike you? What's the risk in using mental health as a source of humor?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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