Halloweentown (1998)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy  |   Release Date - Oct 17, 1998 (USA - Unknown)  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Extremely popular with its target audience (and spawning, as of this date, three made-for-cable sequels), Halloweentown is a moderately entertaining holiday offering, especially for undiscriminating viewers. Certainly the basic premise is a good one -- a young girl discovering she's descended from a long line of witches and getting introduced a parallel dimension in which all the inhabitants are witches, spooks, monsters and the like. And much of the plot is involving, even if occasionally trite. But there's also a layer of typical Disney manipulation and too much emphasis on its homespun "message" at times. Also, while many of the special effects are quite good, the costumes and make-up for the Halloweentown minor characters and extras are sometimes unbelievably fake. On the plus side, Halloweentown has a very winning cast, starting with Debbie Reynolds, who provides some old school star magic and gets to kick up her heels and have a grand old time. Kimberly J. Brown does quite well as the young witch, Joey Zimmerman is good as her younger brother/sparring partner, and Robin Thomas provides some nice touches. If Judith Hoag gets a bit wearing, it's really more because of the character than the actress.