Continuing our month into Halloween movies for kiddos, week three found us hovering around a timeless classic, a new love and two VERY kid-friendly Halloween stories. Not many tricks this time, only treats and not much to spook anyone, but a few to melt the heart.

Here’s how our rating works;

One pumpkin for each of the following categories: 

1- spooky
2- charming
3- teach a lesson of some sort
4- have great music that moves the story and/or makes the spooky parts better
5- reference Halloween at least ONCE in the film.
Additionally, one “harvest moon” is awarded by each of them when they decide it’s a keeper. This is like their “bonus point”.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Directed by Bill Melendez, Written by Charles Shultz, Music by Vince Guaraldi

This was not our first time seeing it, I bought it last year and they both enjoyed it. This year, the reviews were mixed.

Liam (age “almost 8”), loved it. He thought it was hilarious that Charlie kept getting rocks, but also sad because that wasn’t fair at all. Lucy, he said, was a jerk and SHE should have gotten the rocks in her trick-or-treat bag. He was able to look past the kid drama to enjoy the magic of Linus’s Great Pumpkin patch and has now decided we need to plant one for next year.

Lottie, (age 6) wouldn’t even stay for the whole movie. She walked out after about 15 minutes declaring it was “a mean show” and her brain was telling her it was a bad movie. She was angry and disappointed. She had WANTED to like it, but just couldn’t handle the constant bullying and cruelty the children seemed to throw all too easily at one another. She didn’t understand why any of them were even friends at all, as they just seemed to insult each other and make fun of or hurt each other. Linus and Charlie were the only nice ones and they both got picked on. She saw that right away and found it completely inappropriate. “Why are the nice kids always being picked on” she asked me… We had a long conversation about attitude and how sometimes people say things in ways they don’t really mean and just because they have bad attitudes and their tones are mean, that doesn’t mean they, themselves are mean. She didn’t get it, her furrowed eyebrows showing her lingering anger and confusion then opted to go play with her dolls till the movie was over.

All in all, for me – it’s always going to be a timeless classic. Rude kids and silly story aside, it’s timeless, lasting and most importantly, it ends well and I’m always going to love it, but my review isn’t the point today, is it?

For the kids; Liam gave it 5 pumpkins. Lottie gave it none, saying had the kids been nicer, she might have bothered trying to even understand the story, but they made her hate it without even knowing what it was about. Since Liam gave it 5 and Lottie gave it zero, we’re rounding out with 2 pumpkins and one Harvest Moon.

 

 

 

Igor 2008 Directed by Tony Liondis and produced by Universal Pictures, Music by Patric Doyle

This film was a delightful surprise for everyone. At first, my tender-hearted daughter didn’t want to watch it. She said it looked scary and the characters were mean… but, after a bit of a push from me to give it a chance, she quickly realized it was going to be worth her time.

This is one of those movies that sneaks up on you. At first, it’s just a kid’s movie, another take on the classic Frankenstein story, no big deal.. then it hooks you, drags you under and drowns you in feels till it finally lets you go feeling like the world has been redeemed just a little bit. We all enjoyed it. Doyle’s music sweeps in like a character of its own to carry you through each scene. I have to say, I love that he did the music, considering he was the composer for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein back in 1994.

This sweet story about an unassuming Igor who secretly longs to invent instead of serve, pulls at the heart. As he creates and shapes his masterpiece, something which will help propel his career and show the world “Igors” don’t have to live limited lives in service to cruel, evil inventors, he learns a valuable lesson about superiority, kindness and giving the same right to others he so desperately wishes for himself. His creation, through a comedy of errors, turns out to be a sweet, lady monster with Hollywood aspirations and zero clue how to be evil. Igor thinks he must lie to her to get what he wanted because his dream is so important. Along the way, he finds lying to someone pure of heart isn’t worth it. All the successes in the world don’t matter if you’ve hurt the ones who love you most. The Igor becomes the inventor who becomes the monster himself, until he realizes his error. He rights the wrongs of generations past to heal the present and create a unified future. It’s a story that, in our current real world, we need to hear, cling to and do our part to manifest into reality.

Lottie spoke up as soon as the movie was over saying, “Mom, I’ve changed my mind. This is a really great movie and I LOVE it…” (stopping to consider) “even if it had mind control, it was still good. I’m so glad you made me watch it!” Liam’s final impression was positive, as well. They were both willing to overlook their fear of mind control to see it through and they were both happy they did.

Great music, great story, excellent moral/lesson, all in all it was a win that we’ve watched about four times since that first day.

 

 

Halloweentown 1998 & Halloweentown II; 2001 Directors Duwayne Dunam (1) and Mary Lambert (2), Score by Mark Mothersbaugh (1 &2), Disney Channel Original Movies

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I know. I shook my head and took a deep breath before pressing “play” on both of these expecting to regret it immediately. But here me out when I say… they’re not THAT bad. Disney’s love of magic has carried us through over 100 years worth of Halloweens and I had to at least try. Plus, they both have Debbie Reynolds and I loved her when I was a little girl. She was a musical theatre icon, the voice of Charlotte in the 70’s Charlotte’s Web, AND she’s Princess Leia’s mom, so… there’s a few good reasons to at least give it a go.

These movies are sweet, innocent, spooky but not scary, and leaves the children with a resolution that lets them sleep peacefully. It’s what Disney specials aught to be. Just fun. No gimmicks, no agendas, nothing but what it is.

The first is a coming of age story we’ve heard before; young girl learns she is a witch and gets to explore what that world is like through the help of someone her caretaker doesn’t approve of. She learns that she needs her whole family’s help to save the world of Halloween town and finds herself learning to look beyond skin-deep to see the true nature of those around her. The second is a similar theme, but the children are older and the story is a bit more complex. Still, in the end, everyone is reminded that family is always going to be the most important thing and the love and bond within the family circle is stronger than any other form of magic there is.

Both the kids liked the first one, so I rented the second and they enjoyed that one, as well. Did I enjoy them? Weeeeelll…. I thought the make-up was good, the costumes were fun and the colors were super Halloweenie festive and bright in all the best Disney ways.

The story truly IS for kids and I’m okay with that. I don’t have to LOVE every single one we watch. Much like Mr Boogedy and many of the movies I loved as a child, it touches them just as its supposed to while the parents watch and smile, happy the kids are enjoying it, secretly hoping they never have to see it again. It says it’s targeted toward children between 8 and 15, but a few more years and I’m not sure either of mine would like them… It does have a few scary themes for younger kiddos, so I’d probably say this is good for ages anywhere between 5-12, but not much higher unless they are particularly innocent.

They both loved each of them and I though the music was fun, AND they are both about Halloween. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but per my own rating system, these movies earned their 5 pumpkins and 2 Harvest Moons.

 

 

Now, I know I said we were going to watch Casper, but it was darn near impossible to find it on DVD and it’s not on ANY streaming service without paying a fee, so we passed on that one. I did however, show them the ORIGINAL Casper cartoons that are available on Amazon Prime. Not really worthy of a full on review, as both the kids got pretty bored awfully fast, but we did make it through to the end and they want to see the movie at some point. Oh well.

On to week four… In the mean time, what are you watching? Any traditions beyond movie-watching with your children you like to do during the Halloween season?

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