Tween brew: Witchy fun, a pinch of fright.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: October 10, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Family members learn to trust one another and work together toward a positive goal.

Positive role models

An impressionable teen falls in with the bad guy, but realizes his error and changes his ways by defecting to the good side; the main character argues with and defies her mom but also demonstrates her growing independence.

Violence & scariness

Non-graphic scenes in which the good witches battle the evil warlock using their magic powers; an intense but non-graphic scene in which the mean warlock zaps two of the main characters into a zombie-like state.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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 offers a satisfying brew 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 17, 1998
DVD release date:September 13, 2005
Cast:Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Kimberly J. Brown
Director:Duwayne Dunham
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Halloweentown was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of a 9 year old Written byRunesong October 13, 2011

Family fun that's appropriate for everyone in the family!

Great alternative to the typical cartoon Halloween fare. We look forward to all the Halloweentown movies year after year. Definitely not high budget films, but still lots of fun!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byzackaback September 23, 2009
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Special affects can't hide the dull story and weak plot.

I seemed to enjoy Halloweentown at first.The characters were charming and the mom and grandma while cliched were enjoyable as well.But toward the middle of the movie,things fall apart. Many movies like this have flaws like special affects overload,but this one could have added a little more of them to at least keep us awake througout the movie.Because the movie has no excitement at all,you'll probobly be dying for some big affects or an intersting character.While they were intersting at first,you never get to know them too well or even get to see what they're feeling.Like toward the ending,don't you think that Marnie would be crying or at least be sad at the sight of her now stone like mom and grandma? Halloweentown is a very dull movie with a poorly thought out plot and weak characters.You would be better off watching the other sequels which are alot better than this one.


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