×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Halloweentown

What separates this original pic from the usual Halloween fare is that it captures the spirit of a holiday designed for kids. It's sweet and fun, but too much could definitely give you a stomach ache. Halloween, much like Christmas, has been turned into a marketing gimmick, and each year, TV execs try to cash in on the revelry. However, this story of a 13-year-old girl fascinated with all things witches is really about discovering the power of family, mortal or otherwise.

With:
Aggie Cromwell - Debbie Reynolds Gwen Piper - Judith Hoag Marnie Piper - Kimberly J. Brown Dylan Piper - Joey Zimmerman Sophie Piper - Emily Roeske Calabar - Robin Thomas Luke - Phillip Van Dyke

What separates this original pic from the usual Halloween fare is that it captures the spirit of a holiday designed for kids. It’s sweet and fun, but too much could definitely give you a stomach ache. Halloween, much like Christmas, has been turned into a marketing gimmick, and each year, TV execs try to cash in on the revelry. However, this story of a 13-year-old girl fascinated with all things witches is really about discovering the power of family, mortal or otherwise.

After a slow start, this family adventure comes to life thanks to the presence of screen legend Debbie Reynolds. Although the film doesn’t come close to capturing Reynolds’ considerable talents, the 66-year-old actress clearly relishes her role as a matriarchal witch who comes home to recruit her granddaughter into the family business.

The story begins with 13-year-old Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) pouting because she’s forbidden to join the neighborhood kids for Trick or Treat.

Her bookworm brother Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) would rather watch a nature show, but 4-year-old Sophie (Emily Roeske) also longs to join in the festivities.

Unbeknown to the kids, Mom (Judith Hoag) is a retired witch who gave up her craft to live as a mortal. Now a widow, she tries to maintain the status quo, shielding her children from her colorful past. The pic literally lights up when Reynolds, as Grandma Aggie Cromwell, makes a surprise visit, bringing costumes and candy to the Halloween-starved kids.

Grandma Aggie warns her daughter that Marnie must begin her witch training or loose all of her powers forever. She also tries to convince her daughter to return home to Halloweentown, to fight off the strange evil force that is turning the happy-go-lucky residents into hateful ghouls.

Halloweentown is no ordinary neighborhood. It’s a haven for monsters, demons, trolls and warlocks who have forsaken the real world to live peacefully and unbothered in a truly enchanted kingdom.

When Marnie discovers her birthright, she and her siblings follow Grandma home to help fight off the evil force that’s destroying the town. Marnie and Sophie embrace this odd world, while Dylan remains constantly skeptical. He writes off the strange inhabitants as animatronic. “Disney World,” he tells Marnie, “is full of that stuff.”

Sharp writing by Jon Cooksey and Ali Matheson doesn’t go unnoticed.

The movie is full of topical humor and whimsical touches, including a microwave with Bubble, Toil and Trouble settings and a demon who fails to impress today’s teenagers with his evil spells because they’ve already seen it all on Jerry Springer.

Reynolds is heavily showcased, but the key to the story is Brown who nails the part of a young girl struggling to find her identity without conjuring up images of an adolescent nightmare. Zimmerman, as Dylan, plays the straight man perfectly and gets all of the best lines, while Roeske is simply charming as young Sophie.

Hoag is the killjoy mom who inexplicably would rather clean house and cook than use her magical powers. The only personality she shows is when she runs into her old boyfriend-turned-evil-warlock, played with flair by Robin Thomas.

Although generally good-natured fun prevails, there are enough scary images in Halloweentown to frighten the wee ones, but not enough action to entice those over 15. The tech credits are adequate, but are clearly not the draw here.

Halloweentown

Disney Channel; Sat. Oct. 17, 7 P.M.

Production: Filmed in Portland, Ore., by Ventura Valley Films. Executive producers, Sheri Singer and Steve White; director, Duwayne Dunham; writers, Jon Cooksey and Ali Matheson; production designer, Alfred Sole; costume designer, Brienne Glyttov; camera, Michael Slovis; editor, Martin Nicholson; sound, Doug Tourtelot; casting, Megann Ratzow. 84 MIN.

Cast: Aggie Cromwell - Debbie Reynolds Gwen Piper - Judith Hoag Marnie Piper - Kimberly J. Brown Dylan Piper - Joey Zimmerman Sophie Piper - Emily Roeske Calabar - Robin Thomas Luke - Phillip Van Dyke

More TV

  • Jean Francois Helene Etzi

    Disney's French Chief Jean-Francois Camilleri Exiting, Helene Etzi Upped

    Jean-Francois Camilleri is leaving Disney after more than 30 years and will replaced as the head of its French operation by Helene Etzi. Sources said Camilleri’s departure was his own decision. He announced his exit on Twitter, Tuesday, and paid tribute to his team and colleagues at Disney, thanking them for the “unique adventure.” In [...]

  • Sal Petruzzi, Turner's U.S. Communications Chief,

    Sal Petruzzi, Turner's U.S. Communications Chief, to Step Down

    Sal Petruzzi, who has supervised U.S. communications outreach for the Turner suite of media businesses, will step down from the role as the unit, once part of Time Warner, is making a transition under the ownership of AT&T. “There comes a point in your career when it is time to say goodbye,” Petruzzi said in [...]

  • DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE

    Khalid to Join Kane Brown for Duets-Heavy ACM Awards Telecast

    Khalid, the R&B singer whose sophomore album comes out April 5, will be taking to the airwaves two nights later to collaborate with country star Kane Brown in a performance that’s been announced for the Academy of Country Music Awards. In a heavy nod toward “Grammy moment”-style hookups between artists, producers also unveiled some of [...]

  • Tiffany Haddish

    Tiffany Haddish to Produce Stand Up Comedy Series for Netflix

    Tiffany Haddish has partnered with Netflix to curate a new stand up comedy series. The series is titled “Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready,” which will introduce a diverse group of six up-and-coming stand-up comedians doing half-hour specials. All six comedians were personally chosen by Haddish. She shares a history with each after working together on [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped, Lawyers Say

    Charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped, his lawyers confirmed to Variety. The actor had been indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report, stemming from his alleged staging of a Jan. 29 hate attack. “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean [...]

  • How Will Apple TV+ Impact Netflix?

    How Will Apple TV+ Shake Up Netflix? Analysts Are Split

    Is Apple’s star-fueled streaming service a “Netflix killer” — or just another incremental challenger chasing the market leader? Wall Street don’t agree on whether Apple TV+ will put a big dent in Netflix’s subscriber momentum with the debut of its premium subscription VOD service later this year. At its splashy unveiling Monday, Apple trotted out [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content