We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Ghosts of Buxley Hall is a jaunty ghost story -- and Disney TV movie -- with no real scares but mild intrigue and a few laughs. Tongue-in-cheek sexism is rife -- female characters are consistently patronized but their charm and confidence means the joke is well and truly on the men. Don't expect chills or creepiness -- this is more of a ghostly romp with slapstick hauntings and charming ghosts. The only real peril comes from money-grabbing characters with sinister plans, but even they are portrayed as clownish and relatively unthreatening. A casual reference to "Suicide Hill" is alarming, but the ensuing scene is a jolly race to the top of said hill. An uncomfortable sex education lesson is played for laughs but may simply confuse younger viewers. In one scene, after being plied with alcohol, a character is clearly drunk, slurring his words. Overall, the takeaway is positive as gender equality triumphs and the underdogs prevail.
What's the story?
In THE GHOSTS OF BUXLEY HALL, a progressive girls' school merges with Buxley Hall's traditional military academy for boys, much to the horror of its resident ghosts. With the bank threatening to withdraw its funding, the two headteachers must collaborate to make the new school financially viable. But the Hall's founder, the long-dead General Buxley (Dick O'Neill) emerges from a painting with his cohorts, determined to scare off the female imposters and restore the academy to its traditional standing. Meanwhile, wealthy orphan Jeremy (Rad Daly) joins the school bringing hope of a generous donation -- but only if his conniving aunt doesn't get her hands on his money first.
Is it any good?
This made-for-TV Disney movie from 1980 takes a while to get going but if you persevere you can't help but be sucked in. A fun cast of characters includes friendly ghosts, plucky school girls, and an entertainingly wicked aunt. While the men are generally portrayed as old-fashioned and sexist, it's all presented with a heavy dose of irony, and the female characters (young and old) make strong, positive role models. The schoolgirls transform the mood at Buxley Hall with loud music, hair styling, and T-shirts with slogans like "Never underestimate the power of a woman" -- pretty forward-thinking for a 40-year-old movie.
Kids will giggle at The Ghosts of Buxley Hall's meager special effects, and there are plenty of weak jokes throughout, but as the pace picks up the story gets more compelling and even the humor improves. After building to a tense but exciting finale -- as the boys and girls work together in a classic Disney-style stand off -- the happy ending is a big shout out for equality (and even a hint of romance).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender roles in The Ghosts of Buxley Hall. How are the women portrayed in comparison to the men? How do the men treat the women? Do you feel the representations are realistic?
How do the different characters demonstrate the importance of standing up for their beliefs? Why is this a valuable character trait? Can it ever be a negative trait? Can you think of any real-life examples?
Talk about how ghosts are portrayed in movies -- they're not always scary. Can you think of other movies in which the ghosts are friendly? How to choose a scary movie for your kid.
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 1980
- Cast: Dick O'Neill, Victor French, Louise Latham
- Director: Bruce Bilson
- Studio: NBC Studios
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 23, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch