Halloweentown High (2004)

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Marnie Piper and the Cromwell family return in the third installment of the series, where now a chance experiment in high school may lead to chaos amongst the mortal world and Halloweentown.

After opening a portal that allows those from Halloweentown to the mortal world and vice versa, Marnie Piper has come up with an idea for an experiment to see if the mortal world would be willing to accept monsters. The idea is have a select group of teen monsters from Halloweentown come in as high school students but disguised as humans at first. When the Halloweentown council becomes reluctant, Marnie mistakenly bets that if the experiment fails by midnight on Halloween, the Cromwells will lose their magical powers.

As Marnie begins the project, she pretends the newcomers are a select group from Canada while Aggie will go undercover as a new teacher at the school. Meanwhile, Marnie meets and crushes on fellow new student Cody, who takes a liking to her immediately. However, trouble comes in the form of an anti-monster league known as the Knights of the Iron Dagger, who begin unleashing their calling card at the school. To make things worse, something strange begins to happen to some of the monsters who are a part of the group. Will Marnie be able to sort everything out or risk losing her powers as well as her family’s?

The third of the Halloweentown films brings back the core cast, although this time, one major supporting character is relegated to having only one line in the film. That is Sophie, played by Emily Roeske, who makes her final on-screen appearance here before her retirement to focus on teaching martial arts. The film would also mark the final appearance of Kimberly J. Brown as the OG, Marnie Piper. Here, Marnie is now a high schooler ready to show the world that humans’ views on monsters can change under the right conditions.

The late great Debbie Reynolds provides much comic relief as Aggie Cromwell, Marnie’s grandmother who is now a teacher at the school as part of the project. Her bubbly personality matches her bumbling of using spells to enhance education in a way that suits the Disney way. A few welcome additions come in the form of Eliana Reyes’ Cassie, who is a full-blooded witch who learns the ways of being human and High School Musical’s Lucas Grabeel as Ethan, a warlock who tends to occasionally get himself in more trouble than he would like.

Future soap opera star Finn Wittrock also makes a welcome addition as Cody, a fellow newcomer who instantly likes Marnie. Another High School Musical star, Olesya Rulin, plays Natalie, whose intellect attracts Marnie’s brother Dylan, but he may be a stereotypical male who becomes shocked during seeing what his new potential love actually looks like. Aggie also finds herself having the school’s vice principal having some sort of affection for her, which leads to a complicated matter as to what is soon to turn the Cromwells’ world or worlds upside down.

Halloweentown High is a pretty fun third installment that takes a bit of the reversal from the first film and brings a bit more trouble for the Cromwell family, but as with the previous installments, this will only bring the mortal world and monster world closer.

WFG RATING: B

A Disney Channel production. Director: Mark A.Z. Dippé. Producer: Don Schain. Writer: Dan Berendsen; based on the characters created by Paul Bernbaum. Cinematography: Bob Seaman. Editing: Terry Blythe.

Cast: Kimberly J. Brown, Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, Lucas Grabeel, Eliana Reyes, Finn Wittrock, Olesya Rulin, Clifton Davis, Michael Flynn, Todd Michael Schwartzman.

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