(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Return to Halloweentown)
Doug (vo): Good Lord, how many of these Halloweentown movies did they make? Okay, well, this is Halloweentown 4: Return to Halloweentown. Shouldn't the second one have been called "Return to Halloweentown"? I guess it doesn't matter. Kids that watch these movies obviously want to see the continuing adventures of Marnie Piper, as well as her know-it-all brother and that third sister that still seems to have just vanished into thin air.
Doug (vo): This film involves Marnie going to college, a college very similar to Hogwarts, almost...rip-offingly so. It looks like Hogwarts, the magic spells sound like Hogwarts, a lot of the students are looking more wizard and witch-ly. There's a few creative makeups, but for the most part, people are human-looking. There's even a prophecy that says a magic student will come along to shift power and, blah-blah-blah, you know this kind of story. It's uncovering a mystery while still trying to fit in, trying to do the right thing, even though there's peer pressure from the other side. There's evil students, evil teachers, but also good students and good teachers. And just when you think it's all gonna follow the predictable rulebook, at the beginning of the third act, there's time travel. Yeah, going back in time to see your magical ancestor that kind of comes out of nowhere.
Doug (vo): It's definitely all over the map, but I can't say it's...offending by any means. The most interesting thing in watching these movies is comparing the acting. Watching the first film compared to the last film is really kind of eye-opening. I'm really wondering what was going on behind the scenes, or did they get different directors or whatever, because the performances given here, as well as in the last few films, was not the same as the first one.
(Clips focusing on the Piper family are shown)
Doug (vo): It's also kind of nice to see how much the family dynamic holds up. Okay, I can't act like the Pipers are the most interesting family, but at the same time, there's definitely a lot of scenes that show that they do care about each other. I like the mother checking in, via washing machine...yeah, it gets kind of weirdly fun. I like the cynical brother still trying to keep on top of things, I like the main character trying to blend in with new friends, but it's not all the cliches you think it necessarily would be. Like I said, I couldn't predict time traveling in this.
(Scenes focusing on the plot and actions of the villains are shown)
Doug (vo): But, yeah, it's a little hard to shake the Harry Potter feel in all this, especially with the bad guys constantly talking about the ancient prophecy that will grant them the ultimate power, and they have to...God, what was it again? Turn the brother into a dog and hold him hostage so that she can get the magical device that grants all power and magic and give it to them. But, wait. If she has all power and magic, couldn't she do whatever she wants with it? And...yeah, that's kind of what ends up happening. I guess that's kind of a spoiler, but if you were in the situation, you'd do the same thing, so it's not really much of a surprise. There's one or two creative things that make it stand out a little bit, but it's not that much.
(Various clips resume showing)
Doug (vo): The best way I can describe it is the mother, who...yes, I know is April O'Neil, I'm sure a million of you were mentioning that...brings up before she goes to school that with great power comes great responsibility. The daughter straight-up says, "You stole that from Spider-Man". And that's kind of the feel of the entire film. You know they're ripping off a ton of other sources, but you know they're also having innocent fun with it. And, yeah, like Harry Potter, the best parts of the movies are the parts that it feel like a real school, like they talk about this years, the first year, they're letting in genies and mummies and, yeah, witches. Tiny details like that add a credibility that make this world almost liveable, or at least, you want to live in it, it's neat.
Doug (vo): But is it necessary or super-exciting? Not really. But it's not really terribly written or harmful either. It's just another Halloweentown movie. That's the best way I can put it. If you can't get enough of this series and you want to see a fourth one, this'll do you fine. For me, it hasn't unpleasantly overstayed its welcome, but I can say I'm definitely ready for Christmas.
(A scene showing Dylan working in the library while the door closes is shown)