(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Halloweentown)
Doug (vo): From one Halloween movie with Under Wraps to another one with Halloweentown. But sadly, unlike Under Wraps, this is pretty much exactly what I thought I was gonna get with a cheap, lame Disney Channel movie. I guess they made a couple sequels to this, but God help me if I can figure out why. This is stupid. This is the kind of movie you would see on Mystery Science Theater. It's filled with hokey acting, lame effects, and surprisingly not very creative ideas. That is to say, the initial setup is not that bad.
Doug (vo): Three kids are forbidden to go out on Halloween because the mother says they can't. But things start to turn around when their grandmother, played by the late Debbie Reynolds, literally flies in and says that she needs the mother's help. The kids overhear, follow the grandma, and discover that she is, in fact, a witch. And they follow her on this magic bus to Halloweentown. And if you're anything like me, you're thinking Halloweentown is gonna be something like... (image of...) Halloween Town, the one from Nightmare Before Christmas, weird buildings, dark, creepy, odd, everything a little askew. But nope. It's a bright, cheerful place that just has a bunch of people in Halloween masks. Oh, I mean, uh, ghouls and goblins, ooh! But Halloweentown is in trouble, because this evil bad guy, who kind of looks like a mix between the Grim Reaper and Jim Carrey's Grinch, and acts about as subtle...
Kalabar (Robin Thomas): Welcome to my museum! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Doug (vo): ...wants Halloweentown to take over the land of the humans so they don't have to live apart anymore. Actually...doesn't sound like that bad of a plan, I'm not sure why they're separate anyway. But nevertheless, the grandma tries to teach the kids how they can be little witches and warlocks to come together and stop his evil magic.
Doug (vo): Okay, so, from a setup like this, obviously, story is not gonna be a biggie. This is an excuse to have some really creative images and ideas and characters and so on and so forth. And that's not, for the most part, what we get here. The writing's not especially imaginative, it just sort of goes by the numbers. "Hey, look, a ghost. Hey, look, a werewolf." The acting isn't necessarily awful, but it's...just bad enough. Like the 13-year-old is supposed to be odd and strange and a bit of a weirdo.
(Clips of some kids talking about Marnie Piper (the main character) are shown)
Marnie's Friend 1: Seeing as how Marnie likes weird stuff so much.
Dylan (Joey Zimmerman): She's got the weird part down, pat.
Marnie's Friend 2: Halloween is, like, made for her.
Doug (vo): Okay, look and listen to this kid and tell me if you would get that.
Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown): And how are we supposed to grow up if we can't explore the world, try new stuff and take some risks?
Doug (vo): Uh-huh, no. Daria is a weird kid. The Monster Squad are weird kids. You're like the cheerleader from American Beauty trying to be weird, but doing a really bad job at it because you're the everyday, average kid. There's nothing odd about you. The brother is the typical geek with all the analysis and book-smarts that he brings up at every single moment because that's all he is.
Dylan: Give me a good nature documentary any day. / All that candy causes cavities and gum disease. / Trees are important, too, you know. / Everyone's got their thermostat set to 68 degrees.
Doug (vo): Degrees, science, that's my entire character! Never seen that before! And the smallest one is so bad, they only give her a sentence at a time. Hell, sometimes, just a word at a time.
Sophie (Emily Roeske): I was pretending. / I wished the lock would turn into a frog. / It's the bad thing.
Doug (vo): The only one who's ever doing a good job is Debbie Reynolds. I don't know what it is. She acted like every single part she got was the role she always wanted to play. She just puts everything into it, and she's 100% believable, even in such a silly idea.
Sophie: I don't like witches. They're mean and scary.
Aggie (Debbie Reynolds): Oh, no, no, no, no, sweetheart. I mean, they're just like everyone else. Some are kind, some are mean. That's just the way they use their magic.
(Clips focusing on several monsters in the film are shown)
Doug (vo): Aside from that, I'll give some credit to some of the creativity in the makeup. I mean, don't get me wrong. They're obviously masks, they don't look real, but they're...kind of like the Evil Dead movies. You know they're fake, but they're very creatively fake. Some of them have really cool designs, and I especially love this skeleton taxi driver.
(We are shown the scene of Benny the skeleton driving the kids in a taxi)
Benny (Rino Romano): So, first time in town for you, kids?
Doug (vo): Look at this thing. Look at how expressive it is. It would've been so easy just to have a skeleton in a cap hat and just have the mouth move up and down, but look at this. The eyebrows have a lot of motion, the mouth is moving left and right as well as up and down. It's actually a really good effect. But then they ruin it with this line.
Dylan: It's probably animatronic. Disneyland's full of stuff like that.
Doug (vo): Wha...? What are you doing, you dick?! Don't ruin the illusion! That's like someone coming on to The Muppet Show, saying, "Yeah, you're probably all puppets. Most likely from the Jim Henson studio." Little douchebag! Once in a while, there's a joke that gets a little bit of a laugh, like I enjoy how the witch's microwave has "boil" and "bubble" and "toil" and so forth. There's a fun little segment where the kids have to get ingredients for a spell like "hair of a werewolf", "fang of a vampire", and "sweat of a ghost". How do they do that in this world? By going to a barber shop, a dentist, and a gym, of course, leading to probably the film's best line.
Dylan: Ghosts are dead. Why would they worry about fitness?
Doug (vo): But aside from that, it's pretty empty. I mean, just look at this place. When I hear "Halloweentown", I want to see something dark and creepy and whimsical, not just any other town with people wearing some masks. It's kind of like a mix between a bad Goosebumps episode and that really lame Babes in Toyland, starring Keanu Reeves. The few creative elements are nice, but it's not enough to cover up the cheapness of both the writing and the budget. I suppose if you have, like, little, little kids, this is fine, or, I don't know. Maybe it did have more of an audience than I thought. They made a ton of sequels. But when you hear "Halloweentown" and you think of something more like what the cover looks like as opposed to this bright, suburban sunny day, then I say this is a definite pass.
(The final scene, showing the citizens of Halloweentown waving goodbye to the main characters, is shown)