Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Madison Pettis, Sterling Beaumon, Luke Benward, Brian Stepanek, David DeLuise
Director: Richard Correll
Series: an R. L. Stine Movie
Release Date: 30 September 2008
Length: 98 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: TV
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
“When he discovers a pair of young ghosts (Madison Pettis, Luke Benward) living under his bed, nebbish 11-year-old Max (Sterling Beaumon) agrees to help the sibling specters solve the mystery surrounding their demise if they help make his life easier at school. Based on the popular writings of best-selling author R. L. Stine, this family-friendly thriller also stars Ali Lohan, Brian Stepanek and Adam Hicks. ” — Netflix.com
This movie was a little blah for me. Granted, I am nowhere near the target audience of this movie – it is very clearly geared towards a tween audience – but I still feel like I should have been able to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The storyline is pretty simple – two ghosts (Madison Pettis, Luke Benward) need help finding their parents so they gravitate toward the one boy (Sterling Beaumon) who can see and hear them. Of course, there has to be a villain, so there is this weird looking guy who is trying to free all of the imprisoned, wicked ghosts on Halloween night when his powers are at their peak. Of course, the little tweeny-boppers can ruin his plan and save the day by completing a magical chant. And yes, I am serious, that is the plot.
Okay, so the story could have been told in about 20 minutes and shown on one of the Disney Channel‘s series, but instead they chose to turn it into a feature-length film. They filled all of the extra time with your typical geeky-freshman problems. Max (Sterling Beaumon) wants to wow everyone with his magic show at the fund raiser, so he tries to get the most popular girl in school, Traci (Ali Lohan) to be his assistant. He also must try to dodge the school bully, who really has it out for him. His older brother and father aren’t much better as neither one understands his obsession with magic over sports. So, with two ghosts suddenly at his disposal, Max uses their ghostly skills to the max to get back at everyone and have the best magic show performance ever! Kids will probably really enjoy these parts, but I was bored and confess that I did watch the movie on fast-forward mode for a little bit to get to the ending.
The special effects are really well done for a made-for-TV movie. The ghosts can “streak” around in these colorful flame-like forms and pop up anywhere and everywhere they want. They are shown in a see-through mode, but almost appear solid. They also pop their heads through walls, lose their heads, and more throughout the film. I was pretty impressed with the CGI and felt like that elevated this movie into something decent, though not really that good. The acting was a bit stilted and some of the kids did a good job in some scenes and then were over or under acting in other scenes. For the most part, the acting is the typical, over-the-top, “Disney-fied” acting that you find on the Disney Channel, but I wouldn’t say it was horrible.
Anyway, I cannot recommend this movie for adults, but I do feel that children will enjoy this not-too-scary Halloween movie. If you are looking for something that is a touch spooky, but a lot funny, for your kids ages 6 – 12, I think this is a good option. I would just recommend that you leave the room while you watch it and pop in and out to make sure everyone is okay. Not a great movie for me, but a decent TV catch when you are not doing anything else.
The villain is a bit creepy looking – he is pale, has sharp teeth, dresses in black, etc. – and doesn’t like kids, but he is not too scary. He has lots of creepy minions and a dark tunnel he lives in, but most of the movie takes place in the world that we all know and love. With everything else that is out there in the movies and on video games, I think that children ages 6 and up will be just fine to watch this one on their own. If children younger than 6 are looking for a scary Halloween movie, I would recommend that you watch it with in them just in case. Recommended for viewers ages 6 and up.