Halloweentown High (2004)

While “Halloweentown High” really isn’t the most subtle of films with monsters and knights acting as symbolism for civil rights, it does excel in fully realizing the character of Marnie who is no longer a student and now just a matriarch of other students looking to make their way in to the human world. Kimberly J. Brown is as good and charming as ever in the role of heroine Marnie who takes it upon herself to play civil rights leader by insisting some of the monsters from Halloweentown should be allowed to go to human school for the sake of diversity and equality. The catch is by Halloween if she hasn’t made progress, her powers will be stripped away. This allows for a more open forum for new characters, all of whom have their own likable traits and quirks. One if a goblin, another is a werewolf, another a wood nymph, and so on. Marnie plays more of a protector this time watching over the new exchange students, and falling for a new guy named Cody.

Surprisingly their relationship is really quite entertaining as Marnie struggles to balance her duties with her students, her grandma Aggie and her blossoming relationship with Cody, all the while trying to find out who is behind this new face of evil threatening the students of Halloweentown. The metaphors don’t end as the new villain is the Knights of the Silver Dagger, a group of KKK-like extremists devoted to killing the monsters and snuffing out magic, potentially thwarting Marnie’s attempts to strive for equality and bringing both worlds together. Brown really makes this character her own providing an enthusiasm and whimsy that makes her one of the more attractive fantasy heroines of the Disney gamut. Debbie Reynolds is as good as ever in her role of Aggie, the eccentric witch also looking to adapt to her surroundings and aide in Marnie’s quest.

As mentioned the symbolism is clunky most times (Can brother Dylan learn to accept crush Natalie the Pink Troll for her personality and not be bothered by her pink skin and long hair?), but the movie does manage to be rather entertaining with the mysterious new villains making their threats upon the students and trying to find a way to keep this plan from fruition. “Halloweentown High” is definitely one of the weakest of the four, but Brown and Reynolds truly manage to keep the story afloat and the writers manage to blend the magical elements with the real world elements very well with a lizard bag, a portal locker, and some other assorted gags that twist the premise in to something more teen oriented in the end. One of the more blatant flaws of this sequel is that Halloweentown is nowhere to be found and we only catch a glimpse of the big pumpkin.

Whether it’s low budget or lack of necessity for it, Halloweentown is missing in action, and we’re never quite told why these monsters want to go to human high school. While the film is titled “Halloweentown High,” the monsters go to human school. This allows for goofy far-fetched moments completely out of character which include Aggie making a monster face in front of her class with little reaction from anyone, and some rather hilarious social commentary disguised as comedy. The moment where the exchange students frown and groan at the portrayal of monsters at the local Halloween shop is pretty funny and clunky to say the least. While it is an interesting attempt to add depth and relevance to their plight, it’s a cheesy moment nonetheless that really clubs us over the head with its morals. And it’s also pretty eye roll inducing to discover that werewolves are in actuality vegetarians.

The character of Sophie is also barely seen in the entire movie which is a shame considering her character was developing quite well in “Kalabar’s Revenge” and really only appears here in two or three scenes and disappears in to the background for the entirety, and Luke is also nowhere to be found in this entry never being mentioned or even appearing, which is shame considering he was a very entertaining character. I was also never quite clear as to why the council of Halloweentown would want to take the Cromwell’s magic. Isn’t it embedded in their genetic code or something? How does that even work? Even Marnie’s mom still has her magic in this movie in spite of openly rejecting the craft to lead a normal life with her husband. It’s rather absurd and just clumsy to move along an otherwise weak entry. In the end it really tries to twist the original premise for “Halloweentown” but with its lack of the actual town, key characters, plot holes, and some truly annoying PSA’s shoved down our throats, I’m not in any rush to see this ever again. Brown and Reynolds really do know how to keep these movies moving at a great pace, so if you want the last romp of these two fine actresses in this franchises, this is your best bet.