This uplifting, well-rounded film should have been the canonical end to Halloweentown.
In the final film of dear Kimberly J. Brown’s Halloweentown stint as Marnie, we miss a couple of dear characters like Luke and Sophie (who’s then 12-year-old actress, Emily Roeske, was distancing herself from acting, but still made an appearance), but director Mark A.Z. Dippé whips up a nice addition to the H-town family with a movie much more in tune with Disney’s high-school genre. You can watch it in all it’s grainy glory (why is it somehow grainier than the first film?) on Disney+.
Once again we get to watch the Cromwell witches dealing with a threat to magic, this time in the form of a corrupt Halloweentown council member, Edgar Dalloway (Michael Flynn.) When Marnie goes on trial for her actions in the previous movie–making a portal to Halloweentown that is open all year–she accidentally bets the family magic that she can get her high school to accept twelve exchange students from Halloweentown and begin the creature-human acceptance movement. Why it took three years for Marnie to go on trial, I do not know, and I also do not care. It’s high school drama time!
Funnily enough, two of the H-town students later make appearances in High School Musical, which must mean they did a great job being highschoolers in this film. Lucas Grabeel (Ryan in HSM) and Olesya Rulin (Kelsi in HSM) play Ethan Dalloway, son of Edgar, and Natalie, a pink troll, respectively. Now, I’m not really sure what Ethan and his dad are supposed to be–warlocks, I guess? Ethan is pretty useless in most of the movie, honestly. But there are more important things to worry about than his despicable dad, because MARNIE GETS A BOYFRIEND!
Cody (Finn Wittrock) is a new boy at school who seems to have a thing for Marnie, but Agatha is suspicious of his attention when attacks from the thought-to-be-defunct Knights of the Iron Dagger tart popping up everywhere. Marnie is offended by this, but can you really blame Aggie when Marnie’s last on-screen crush, Kal, was literally evil?
Thankfully, Cody is just a weirdo who doesn’t want to meet anyone else but Marnie, I guess, and he–a new student with no other ties to the school–helps ease all of his classmates into accepting the H-town crew when Edgar sets a riot of monsters off during the school festival to scare humans into hating monsters. It doesn’t work, the Cromwells get to keep their magic, and the H-town portal stays open for monsters and humans to mingle forever! Yay! Why wasn’t I born in that alternate universe?
So, again, basic story, but there are a lot more complexities to this one than the previous installments. I loved getting to see Marnie and Dylan interact with H-town people instead of just reacting to them, like in the past. And it’s both sweet and funny to see the H-town students gawking at the humans and hearing about them snacking on mice in biology class. The dynamic is engaging, even if the reasoning (why so many students? and why students instead of adults in a work force? and does this really absolve Marnie of opening the portal forever, because surely not everyone will end up so accepting, right?) is not solid enough to walk on. I’d say that’s a symptom of keeping in the tight time slot of Disney Originals while also trying to complicate the plot more for an older fan base that grew up with Marnie, so I DON’T CARE!
Also, Cody is so weird. Get some other friends, dude. How did he even know Marnie’s address?
Beware of H-town Codys (Codies?),