Return to Halloweentown

  • Review Date: August 27, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A cauldron of witchy magic and malice for tweens.
  • Review Date: August 27, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character occasionally breaks rules, but usually for good causes. Her enemies tease, taunt, laugh at, and even enslave others, but they eventually get punished. The cast is largely white, though the main antagonists are Asian. The positive message of diversity is promoted through metaphor.

Violence & scariness

One character is turned into a dog and kept in a cage. A few other potentially scary (but non-graphic) scenes, including spooky red fog and a monster with glowing eyes.

Sexy stuff

The Sinister Sisters wear lots of makeup, dress slightly provocatively, and walk with sexy swaggers. They get a lot of male attention.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this made-for-TV tween movie contains a few mildly scary scenes including some spooky red fog; a deep, bellowing warlock voice; and a growling creature-monster with glowing eyes. Some strange-looking characters appear throughout the movie, including a friendly skeleton taxi driver, a drooling troll, and some hooded demon-like creatures. On several occasions the main teen character breaks or bends rules, though she's generally well behaved. The primary bad characters are three young women who wear tight clothing and heavy makeup and treat others very badly, including teasing and tricking them.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When a witch graduates from high school, where does she go? To Witch University, of course. That's where Marnie Piper (Sara Paxton) heads in RETURN TO HALLOWEENTOWN, the fourth made-for-TV movie in the Disney Channel's successful Halloweentown franchise. But the path to higher learning won't be smooth for the young witch. And first she must convince her over-protective mother to let her go. Once independent-minded Marnie is off on her own, she finds herself at odds with the Sinister Sisters, a trio of vain, pretentious young women bent on making Marnie's college days miserable.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This being Disney, Return to Halloweentown has very little for parents to worry about. Marnie is an earnest but relatable teen with good intentions. She has some typical tensions with her mother, but in the end turns to Mom for help. Embedded in the story are lessons about the danger of too much power, the benefits of working together, the value of diversity, and the virtue in selflessness.

Parents interested in the more subtle messages being communicated should be aware that mom Gwen (Judith Hoag) is a caricature of a stay-at-home mom who lives through her children. The conflict between Marnie and the Sinister Sisters treads upon the well-worn path of teen female rivalry, especially for male attention. And the outward sign that the Sisters are evil (aside from their scowls) is their heavy makeup and sexy clothing -- equating sex with sin, perhaps?

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about school integration. Do you think it's a good idea to let non-witches into Witch University? Why or why not? How does this issue translate into the real world? Families can also discuss power and politics. Why did the Dominion want to take over Halloweentown? Why didn't Splendora Cromwell want to be queen? If you could have the power to control others, would you take it? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 20, 2006
DVD release date:August 28, 2007
Cast:Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Sara Paxton
Director:David Jackson
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Return to Halloweentown was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byarthur16morgana June 9, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Return to Halloweentown

Amazing movie.I really liked it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byFrogster March 11, 2009
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

I lost six brain cells watching this!

Seriously, I did. I enjoyed the second and third Halloweentown movies to an extent, but the 4th one, "Return to Halloweentown", was even worse than the first. The storyline is completely predictable and cliche, filled with caricatures and plot holes. There is nothing remotely interesting to see here. The only entertaining part was when the mom shouted into the toilet bowl at her daughter while being watched anxiously by the people who had considered buying a house from her, which as you can see is rather juvenile. Younger kids may enjoy this movie, but everyone else should skip it. Nothing objectionable.
Teen, 13 years old Written byhayla101 October 18, 2009
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

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What other families should know
Great role models

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