An Honest Recap of Disney's 'Halloweentown'

Considering the last movie recap I was asked to do was Fifty Shades Freed, I figured I could both tear apart what promises to be a terrible film and ruin some people’s childhoods when tasked with writing an honest review of the Disney Channel classic, Halloweentown. I’d never seen this movie before yesterday and, honestly, I’m really mad that I lost 84 minutes of my life on this. Buckle up.

Meet The Cromwells

We open on some really stunning visual imagery and ooOo someone got creative and used the Goosebumps font for all the credits. Nice touch.

Here are the Cromwells, a lovable family of weird, deprived children sitting inside on Halloween. Marnie, the oldest, is creepy and loves pentagrams, Edgar Allen Poe, un-flattering bangs, and general odd sh*t. She’s 13, and therefore no one understands her. Being a teenager is so hard, guys.

Marnie: Why can’t we be like the other kids and go out and get trashed poisoned have fun dressing up as dead things? GOD, MOM.

The little brother with the very feathered haircut starts spouting about how he also hates Halloween and I’m all, “who’s the dork talking sense? SHUT UP NERD.” I think his name is Dylan, but I’m not going to acknowledge his name for the rest of this movie.

Sophie, the youngest Cromwell, is staring longingly outside.

Mom tells the kids to STFU and enjoy their quiet, sad house. Potential serial killer brother agrees (he loves nature documentaries and killing small animals), Marnie gives some sass mouth, and youngest Matilda extra, Sophie, continues to sit sadly. Yo, but if my kids talked to me this way, I’d knock them through a wall.

Someone brings up dad, and everyone is all “DON’T TALK ABOUT DAD! HE WENT OUT FOR HALLOWEEN AND NEVER CAME BACK!” He definitely left because mom doesn’t even let the kids have cookies, despite Sophie being able to use her mind powers to snatch them. I’m calling Child Protective Services.

Out of nowhere, medieval Mary Poppins i.e. Gramma appears to bestow upon the children candy, witchcraft, and some really off-putting costumes. She reaches into her giant bag and my first thought is “Are there drugs in gramma’s bag, too?”

Turns out, Gramma’s visit is not just because she wanted to undermine her daughter’s parenting and let the kids try wacky tabacky for the first time. There’s a big prob in Halloweentown (established 600 A.D., located in Massachusetts, probably), and respectable goblins, werewolves, and other walking nightmares are disappearing. Gramma needs Gwen (Mom’s real name) to help her save the day, witch style. Gwen is all “my witch costume doesn’t fit anymore” and sends Gramma out on her *ss.

Gramma waits at a v spooky bus stop and is whisked back to Halloweentown, but not before the kids TOTALLY SNEAK ON THE BUS, and somehow no one sees them.

Is Miss Frizzle driving this bus? Because we definitely just went through space and time like I’ve never seen before.

Welcome To Creeptown

Sophie, Marnie, and creepfest brother get off the bus and are greeted by a bunch of v scary Halloween creatures and a curly-haired mayor who is definitely into butt stuff. I guess stranger danger isn’t a thing in Halloweentown, which is a little ironic.

Anyway, the kids hop in a taxi with a talking skeleton and head to Gramma’s house. Once inside, Gramma gives them the lowdown on the “scary thing” that’s making people disappear in Halloweentown, and everyone looks into a moldy cauldron where a vision of a badly made scarecrow appears.

Gramma fills a medieval dildo with an instant magic potion in hopes of scaring away the geriatric threat, but, sadly, magic potions need to be homemade. Instant is sh*tty. I see you, Disney.

Gramma and the kids head into town to blow some money. Gramma’s usually totally fun friend, Harriet, nearly attacks Gramma like I attack carbs. This prompts Gramma to seek out the mayor and be all, “Hey, take care of this sh*t or I will.” Creepy mayor is all, “shush b*tch, I got this.” This is called foreshadowing.

While shopping for brooms, Marnie gets hit on by The Big Cheese (real name is Luke, but honestly, why go by Luke when you can go by The Big Cheese lol amirite), who I think also sent a d*ck pic to my friend on Tinder. Marnie throws some ’90s comebacks and everyone is all “lol, rad.”

Gramma buys Marnie a broom so she can begin training her as a witch and truly alienate all of her normal friends. My main thought during this flying sequence is that there are no seatbelts on this broom.

how did this not get an Emmy for visual effects?

After the dangerous broom ride (who was watching Sophie and the serial killer brother during this time?), OH SH*T MOM IS HERE. She caught another bus (I think) to Halloweentown and is here to (figuratively) kill Gramma.

Sh*t Gets Real

After verbally assaulting Marnie and telling her she’s a muggle and not a witch (she deserved it), Mom turns her attention to getting tf out of this weird town where pumpkins are acceptable decor year-round. Sure, they’re totally a family of witches and this could be fun, but adults are mean.

Mom heads straight to the mayor’s office with the kids in tow. The mayor seems to have known Mom from her non-normal days and they’re all “lol let’s bone”. DO YOU GET IT, GUYS? DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE??

He looks like a medieval version of Phil from Modern Family

Anyway, after some questionable magic tricks and a sudden interruption from a lady dressed like a pin cushion (which Halloween animal are you supposed to be?), the Mayor f*cks off, probably to take care of a rigged election or the swearing in of a head gremlin.

Meanwhile, Gramma is wandering around town (Is she lost? Does she have a Life Alert for emergencies or no?) when The Big Cheese shows up to harass her. He’s clearly in cahoots with the scary thing, so naturally Gramma follows him to punt this kid and the scary thing through a brick wall with some finger sparks.

Sophie sees Gramma go with The Big Cheese and proclaims, “Grandma is going with the wiener dude!” This may be the best line in the whole movie.

In an abandoned movie theater somewhere, the scary thing is holding court over some frozen-in-time bodies and – OH MY GOD, IT’S ALL THE MISSING TOWNSPEOPLE! The Big Cheese has been helping him, and Gramma is here to stop it. Can’t blame her, cause the scary thing is definitely posing those frozen bodies in embarrassing ways, putting fingers in noses, etc.

Honestly, the scary thing just needs a good wrinkle cream and I think he’d be a lot happier.

me, the morning after drinking

Turns out, what the scary man really wants is the medieval dildo—er, talisman—from Act 2, although we’re never really told why. It’s during this time that, inexplicably, Mom and the kids come strolling in. After a stunning green screen magic battle, Mom and Gramma are frozen like the rest of the theater folk. IT’S UP TO THE KIDS TO SAVE THE DAY.

The talisman will only work with REAL (never instant) witch’s brew, so we, the audience, are treated to a fantastic montage of the kids shaving a werewolf for its hair, hanging out in a sauna with a ghost and stealing some sweat, and snagging a vampire’s fang from a goblin dentist.

The Kids Save The Day

The kids head back to Gramma’s with their weird Halloweentown haul and make their own witch’s brew after a Cromwell pep talk and spell session led by Sophie, proving that the youngest children are the scariest of all.

it’s not, tho

The kids are ready to put the talisman in the giant rotting pumpkin in the middle of town since, apparently, that’s where it goes and that’s how they’ll stop Dr. Scarytown Wrinklesface. But before Marnie can do it, The Big Cheese warns her it’s a trap. SHO NUFF, Dr. Wrinklesface appears and gives a very German dictator à la 1940s speech about getting rid of the goblins crossing into the mortal world. He sees who he thinks is Marnie and throws some magical sparks her way. GOTCHA, B*TCH—IT’S THE BIG CHEESE IN DISGUISE. Marnie has made it to the giant pumpkin and planted the talisman in hopes of melting the scary creep and freeing the souls from the abandoned movie theater where the creep definitely wasn’t doing weird stuff to them while they slept.

So why all the evil? Dr. Spookytown—real name, Kalabar—is actually THE MAYOR AND IS SUPER UPSET cause Gwen aka Mom totally ditched him years ago. Hey, this movie sends a really good message to kids about how if they turn someone down they could be setting that person up for a lifetime of evil. Or to become a Supreme Court Justice.

After some very aggressive humming, the Cromwell clan (Marnie, Sophie, Mom, Gramma, and … great… the brother has powers now, too) banish Kalabar the Creep to—well, we don’t know where.

The town celebrates and Marnie kisses Luke aka The Big Cheese who was only being evil ’cause he also wanted to be hot. The movie ends with Gwen telling Gramma she has to live with them because she can’t be trusted on her own and keeps forgetting her meds. The end!

Images: Disney Channel; Giphy (6)

Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki
Sarah Nowicki aka Betchy Crocker writes about food, fashion, and whatever else she's in the mood to complain about for Betches and like, some other people. She resides in Asheville, NC, where she spends her time judging hipsters and holding on to her Jersey heritage and superiority. Yell at her on Instagram @sarahnowicholson