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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Hallowaiian is a 2018 animated feature that mixes mild Halloween scariness with Hawaiian lore regarding nature gods and evil spirits. Three middle schoolers who scoff at talk of ancestral magic accidentally unleash a long-buried evil spirit on their island. As the threat increases, they realize they must conjure their legendary gods, goddesses, and ancestors to help them beat back the evil. A character lies but later apologizes and learns from his mistake. Pineapple Head, with an evil jack-o'-lantern pattern cut out in his face, is an angry and destructive spirit who keeps getting bigger and stronger over the course of Halloween night. He crushes cars and roars loudly, scaring everyone in his path. He chases Eddie. Eddie nearly falls into a volcano. The kids fly in a rickety "whirlybird"; it crashes but everyone lands safely. The kids are forced to take a zip line trip that drops them into a scary body of water.
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What's the story?
As THE LEGEND OF HALLOWAIIAN begins, it's Halloween on a Hawaiian island and middle schoolers Kai (voiced by Noah Schnapp), Leilani (Teilor Grubbs), and Eddie (Kiefer O'Reilly) go surfing. In the ocean, they discover an undersea cavern where a mysterious box has been hidden. Despite his friends' warning, Kai impulsively opens the box and finds within it a small, dark figurine. It soon becomes clear that he has unleashed Pineapple Head, a dangerous and powerful evil spirit long ago wrestled into submission by island spirits and put for safekeeping in the box. As they swim to the surface, Kai loses the figurine. When the kids describe the box to Kai's grandfather, Pono (Mark Dacascos), he warns of the dangerous force in the box, expressing his deep beliefs in island lore and Hawaiian gods. Kai scoffs at such ideas but still lies, assuring his grandfather that he didn't open the box and disturb the spirit within. Eddie, dressed as an astronaut for trick-or-treating, carries a moon rock given to Kai by his deceased mother. Pineapple Head, on a path of destruction, wants the rock to sustain and enhance his power. The kids now recognize that they will need to save the island from his evil. He grows bigger and stronger from moon power and when he obtains the moon rock, growing so tall and invincible that the kids realize they cannot defeat the monster without help from chipmunk-voiced Menahunai, legendary magical pixie creatures (who look a lot like minions from Despicable Me) and from the volcano's fire goddess (Vanessa Williams). The kids and Pono all display great bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of personal risk, defeating Pineapple Head and saving the island. Kai apologizes to Pono for lying and accepts and embraces the legends of his ancestors.
Is it any good?
This movie tells a simple and fairly satisfying story that will probably be absorbing for younger kids, but those same children may find Pineapple Head a scary and angry villain. It's unfortunate that his presence may prove too frightening for The Legend of Hallowaiian's most natural, youngest audience. What may appeal to kids, though, is Kai's transformation from rebellious naysayer who lies and disrespects his elders to someone able to learn from his mistakes and able to apologize when he's wrong. The idea that kids can sometimes save the day may also be appealing to younger audiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what role family religion and legend can play in modern life. Do you think there's a place for belief in gods and spirits? Why or why not?
Who do you think the target audience for The Legend of Hallowaiian is? Why?
What's your favorite Halloween movie? How does this one compare?
- On DVD or streaming: October 19, 2018
- Cast: Noah Schnapp, Teilor Grubbs, Kiefer O'Reilly, Mark Dacascos, Vanessa Williams
- Director: Sean Patrick O'Reilly
- Studio: Cinedigm
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for some mild action
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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