What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this made-for-TV movie contains some mildly scary scenes involving a nasty warlock who's just as scary to look at as he is to listen to; his reptilian-like face and bellowing, angry voice are a frightful combination. In the most intense scene, the evil warlock zaps Mom and Grandma in front of the kids, who are forced to leave their loved ones behind in order to save themselves. The quaint village of Halloweentown is populated with mildly scary-looking creatures of all sorts. On more than one occasion, the main character (who's 13 years old) breaks her mother's rules, and there are a few brief scenes in which family members argue (one mother-daughter squabble is quite realistic and may distress younger kids).
What's the story?
Life changes forever for 13-year-old Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly J. Brown) when she discovers she's a witch. It's Halloween night, and Marnie begs to go out, but her over-protective mom Gwen (Judith Hoag) never lets her kids celebrate the holiday. When Grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) shows up with candy, costumes, and a big secret, Marnie learns that she's a witch and that a dark force is threatening Halloweentown, where Aggie lives and Gwen was raised. But Gwen doesn't want anything to do with magic or witches, and sends Aggie back to Halloweentown. Marnie decides to follow Aggie to Halloweentown, along with brainiac brother Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) and little sis Sophie (Emily Roeske). In Halloweentown -- a cheery-looking village populated with monsters, goblins, witches, ghosts, vampires, and other freakish creatures – the Cromwell kids decide to help their grandmother track down and eliminate the dark force that's turning the citizens of Halloweentown into zombies. Marnie, Dylan, Sophie, and Aggie work together to uncover the mystery, a hunt that leads them to a terrifying warlock with plans to destroy not only Halloweentown, but the normal (mortal) world as well. Of course, when the kids' mom shows up, she threatens to put a wrench in their plans and send them home again.
Is it any good?
While some scenes fall a little flat and the storyline is nothing new, this made-for-TV movie still offers a satisfying brew. It's a fun combo of festive Halloween sets, creative costumes, and family adventure, all rolled up into one tween-safe feature. Reynolds, Hoag, and Brown are especially good in their roles as grandmother, mother, and daughter. This Halloween adventure is mostly pure entertainment, but the storyline does include some valuable messages. Compared to other tween-targeted productions, this Disney feature is downright wholesome, but parents of younger or more sensitive children should note that it includes a couple of mildly scary scenes.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the Cromwell family grows closer together as the movie progresses, and why.
Why did the mom want to shield her kids from their magical heritage and special powers?
Why did the main character argue with her mom, and break her mom's rules?
What makes the evil warlock a "bad guy"?
Who's your favorite magical character from books, TV, or movies?