HALLOWEENTOWN – Film Review

When Grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) comes visiting, the Piper children notice her use magic. Curious, they follow her back to Halloweentown where Aggie and their mother Gwen (Judith Hoag) are attacked by the dark forces.

Happy first day of October, folks! Although Halloween is not my favorite holiday (that would have to be Christmas), Halloween would be my second favorite. There is just something so magical about the spooky season whether it’s carving out pumpkins with loved ones, decorating the house, or watching Halloween-themed movies. For me, it’s all three. So, to get started with the season, I figured I would try to review as many scary movies as possible this month.

For many years now, I have heard numerous people tell me that I should check out a film called Halloweentown. Several of my friends have told me it’s an incredibly wholesome and uplifting movie but also manages to get you in the spirit for Halloween, so I figured I would finally see what all the hype was about today.

Gratefully, I can report that Halloweentown is quite an entertaining movie that plenty of families all around the world will absolutely love. If I watched this for the first time as a young kid, I probably would’ve thought it was the best movie ever. Its atmosphere is surprisingly dark and moody for a kids flick, but it also manages to carry a ton of heart and humor with it.

Courtesy of Disney

First thing’s first – this is an incredibly campy movie in virtually every way. It is filled with a lot of corny lines of dialogue and characters that are extremely goofy and over-the-top, but it works because the film is one-hundred percent self-aware. It never takes itself deathly seriously which is a good thing. If the film tried to be gritty, it would have been a disaster.

But what makes Halloweentown so charming and endearing is the fact that it wonderfully takes you back to your childhood. Yes, kids are probably going to get the most fun and enjoyment out of this story, but there are plenty of elements that adults will appreciate as well. Watching this movie genuinely made me wish it was Halloween night right now. It sets the right mood and atmosphere and makes you want to snuggle up in a blanket by the fireplace.

If there is something to complain about the film, it would have to be some of the acting. Although the actors do a fairly fine job most of the time, there are several instances in which they feel wooden and stiff, as if they were reading their lines off of a cue card off-screen. If I were to pick the two best actors here, it would have to be Debbie Reynolds and Kimberly J. Brown. Both actresses do a terrific job of delivering two charming and heartwarming performances that are sure to put a smile on your face. The rest are a little bit iffy every once in a while.

Plus, the ending of the film was perhaps a bit too over-the-top with how silly it was. It was genuinely hard to take seriously for a minute and some of the visual effects suck you right out of the story. There really is no tension throughout any of the more “intense” sequences, but it’s okay because this is a children’s movie after all. It’s meant to put a smile on children’s faces and it will do exactly that.

Halloweentown is a wonderfully endearing children’s story filled with tons of heart and is sure to put families all around the world in the Halloween spirit.

Overall Grade: A-

MPAA Rating: TV-G

Cast: Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Kimberly J. Brown, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, Phillip Van Dyke, Robin Thomas, Judith M. Ford, Kenneth Choi, Hank Cartwright

Directed by: Duwayne Dunham

Distributed by: Disney

Release Date: October 17, 1998

Running Time: 84 minutes

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