October 28, 2008

Spookley the Square Pumpkin (2004)

Okay, I’ve been pretty heavy on grown-up horror films for my last few reviews – see exhibits A, B, C, and D – so here’s a Halloween tale you can enjoy with the kids: Spookley the Square Pumpkin. (Actually, your kids might enjoy it more than you, if my children are any indication.)

Based on the book by Joe Troiano, the film tells the story of Spookley, the only square pumpkin in his patch. Tormented and ostracized by the other pumpkins – especially the jerk-tastic duo of Big Tom and Little Tom – Spookley begins to doubt he belongs in the patch at all.

But then, his chance to prove himself comes with the Jackalympics – a series of pumpkin-centric events (sadly, no Punkin Chunkin) where the winner will be crowned “pick of the patch” for Halloween, and Farmer Hill will place the winner on his front porch.

Pros/Cons (depending on if you’re an adult or child):
• For what seems like a direct-to-DVD or made-for-TV movie, Spookley’s animation is pretty well done, featuring good use of depth, textures, and color.
The dialogue’s a bit over-delivered, probably for the sake of its target audience – which I would peg as first-graders and younger.
Kids will enjoy the songs, but adults will find them merely tolerable, sub-Disney fare (with one notable exception – see comments).
The film does throw a few bones to the grown-ups watching, with in-jokes such as brother-and-sister bats named Boris and Bella, and a trio of spiders named Edgar, Allan, and Poe who specialize in “web design.”

Spookley’s message is ultimately a positive one of acceptance and believing in yourself. It’s been done before (a certain red-nosed reindeer, anyone?), but it doesn’t hurt to reinforce these positive feelings in kids one more time.

I’m adding an extra star to my rating, based on my kids’ experience (and constant requests for repeat viewing), but grown-ups will probably zone out after a couple of showings (and by that I mean literally two).

Funny P.S.: When Little Tom tells the other pumpkins that Spookley is “a freak of nature,” my wife thought he said that he’s “a freakin’ a-hole.”

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5).

Will your kids like it?
My kids (ages 5 and 2) were glued to it, not uttering one word the whole time. Hope that helps answer the question.

Will your FilmMother like it?
As much as kids may like it, I think mothers and fathers alike will fall victim to my two-and-out viewing rule described above.

Spookley the Square Pumpkin
* Director: Bernie Denk
* Screenwriter: Tom Hughes
* MPAA Rating: G

Buy this movie for less at Half.com >>


Gemma said...

At the risk of repeating myself, how DO you find these films? Looks cute, and sounds as if the boys really liked it. Can we count on a viewing next time we visit??

Kristin said...

I don't think I dislike it as much as you do. I do have an issue with some of the namecalling ("loser" and "idiot" come to mind, besides that other insult I -- ahem -- misunderstood). I think the ending is quite sweet, actually.

You forgot to mention the Spookley plush that our 5 year-old uses to act out the entire film! And that our 2 year-old can sing a rendition of "If I Was Round" that brings a tear to my eye (okay, it's not that hard, but it is oh, so cute).

P.S. Gemma - two words: Disney Channel. :)

FilmFather said...

You're right, dear...I drafted this review before the plush toy arrived...and you're also right about getting misty when our little guy sings along with "If I Was Round" (it hits me the same way).

Gemma said...

Thank you, my sweet d-i-l for the heads up. I MUST watch more Disney Channel so I can stay in the loop! :)

nukedad said...

Thanks for the visit, Celluloid Papa! You are now firmly ensconced in the NFW blogroll. I need to update the "Why did they..." feature on my blog, so I'll be seeking your advice.

JLG said...

Hey, I know this post is super old, but I just saw it over in your archive. We just bought this dvd to watch during pumpkin decorating with our baby. But he fell asleep as soon as we turned it on. I'm sure he would have liked it, although I didn't like the pumpkin's arms coming out the top of their heads.


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