Listen, I understand I’m not the intended audience here, but I put this on the list back in September and I’m sticking to it goddammit. Besides, I enjoy a lot of kids movies that aren’t intended for me, particularly Halloween related offerings.
But seeing as how I’m not the target demographic, does that inherently prevent me from being able to enjoy it or mean that I should avoid analyzing it? Probably, but I’m doing it anyway.
I believe a good kids movie shouldn’t be something only children can enjoy, and if you have kids, you’re gonna have to sit there and at least sort of watch it too. So let’s try look at this thing as objectively as possible.
Let’s start with what’s going on. A dorky horror nerd loves Halloween and his lonely Mom has Eric Roberts as her aloof CPA boyfriend. Yeah, Best of the Best Eric Roberts.
This kid has a girl best-friend that’s kind of into witchcraft, I guess. These 2 accidentally turn Eric Roberts into a bulldog on Halloween. Now they have to drive to a forest retreat for the weekend with the dog and wait for Eric Roberts to show up. But where is he? Why he’s right there and all kind of mishaps ensue, right?
Well, in theory, but actually nothing really happens. What a drag. The dog doesn’t even ruin anything. Nothing about this dog is even remotely Halloweeny. No witch hat, no spooky barking, no skeleton onesie, no candy eating, no nothing. What gives, gang?
The check-cashing Eric Roberts looks and sounds more bored with this nonsense than I am watching it, but he might just be the best thing about this movie. In fact, he’s definitely that.
Everyone else is serviceable in their underwritten roles as placeholders for puppy interaction. No one is great, but no one is so bad it hurts. Except maybe the older witch lady that lives in the other cabin. She’s pretty awful.
How entertaining is it? Well, that depends.
If you’re a 7 year old that’s really into watching recycled footage on a bulldog eating grass, being pet and stomping around, then it’s probably awesome. I am not that, so this was a bit tiring.
But how Halloweeny is it? Honestly, barely. All of the above could be totally forgivable if the movie oozed a silly-spooky festive Halloween vibe. Taking place and being shot in Southern California isn’t doing its Halloween quotient any favors. People talk about Halloween a bunch, but it’s really nowhere to be found. There’s a lot of cheeseball Halloween transitions that are fun, but when it comes to festive atmosphere, A Halloween Puppy‘s got next to none.
I can’t really heap a bunch of criticism on this one, because for what it is, it’s fine. It’s harmless enough family fare that goes by pretty quickly that I’m sure would keep little kids entertained with its upbeat and silly soundtrack mixed with puppy shenanigans.
But I can not recommend you just watch A Halloween Puppy though. I can’t even recommend you have your kids watch A Halloween Puppy, not when there are such festive options at your fingertips as Ernest Scared Stupid, Hocus Pocus, Monster House, Frankenweenie, The Worst Witch, Spaced Invaders and a whole host of awesome Halloween cartoon specials.
This one’s just not bringing the entertainment, even any unintentional shrapnel joy. But more criminally, it’s not even coming through on the Halloween. I should have just watched Spooky Buddies instead. In fact, I just might do that. I have hole next week with no movie to fill.
2 pumpkin wipes down.