tek's rating: ¼

The Canterville Ghost (PG)
Blue Fox Entertainment; CMG; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Shout! Studios; Signature Entertainment; Toonz Media Group; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Vudu; YouTube

Potential spoilers.

Well, I don't think I've ever read the original story by Oscar Wilde. And the only adaptation I remember watching was a 1996 TV movie, but I don't really recall any details of that, now. I must have liked that adaptation better than this one, but I still thought this was fairly good. The animation was okay, but nothing special (though I did think Virginia was pretty). Mostly the story was kind of silly, probably because it's intended for kids more than adults, but there were parts of it I thought worked on a more serious level. And I enjoyed how it ends.

So, an American family moves into an English manor called Canterville Chase, presumably sometime in the late 1800s. The father, Hiram Otis, wants to introduce electric lights to England. He is accompanied by his wife, Lucretia, who is eager to meet English royalty. Their three children include Virginia, who is apparently in her late teens, and two mischievous younger boys named Kent and Louis, who I think were twins. Virginia is very upset about moving to England, and wants to return to their home in America. It turns out that Canterville Chase has been haunted for 300 years by the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry), who was accused of murdering his wife, Eleanor. He has scared all occupants of the manor since his death into leaving, and some have even been driven mad. But when Virginia meets him, she's not scared of him at all. She does hope he can scare away her parents, so they can go home, but it turns out they aren't scared of him, either.

Meanwhile, Virginia gets to know Simon, and they become friends. She is also befriended by a neighbor named Henry, Duke of Cheshire (Freddie Highmore), who develops romantic feelings for Virginia. She's not really interested in him that way, for most of the movie, but of course she comes to love him by the end. (It did seem a bit weird to me that either of them could fall in love with the other, because they didn't really have anything in common, but that's just how movies work, I guess.) There is a problem, though. There's a longstanding feud between the Cantervilles and the Cheshires, for reasons I won't spoil. But while Henry is willing to put all that behind them, Simon is not, and he doesn't want Henry setting foot on his estate.

And... I guess there are a few other characters I should mention. The manor has a housekeeper named Mrs. Umney (Imelda Staunton). And there's a vicar (Toby Jones) who visits the Otises, along with his wife, who is very interested in capturing and studying the ghost. And there's a prophecy that Virginia hears parts of throughout the movie before finding the whole thing, and trying to help Simon pass on to the afterlife, so he can rejoin his wife (whom he didn't murder). Part of the prophecy involves a girl shedding tears, which I found kind of interesting because throughout the movie Virginia is adamant about never crying. But predictably she will end up crying and fulfilling the prophecy (and I felt like the tears were well-earned). But not before her spirit gets trapped in a garden that is actually the land of the dead, tended by a gardener (Hugh Laurie) who is actually the grim reaper. And now I fear I've said too much. But I am leaving out a fair number of details.

I won't say how it all ends, but after some stressful (or even frightening) parts, there is a pretty happy ending for everyone. There's also a brief but amusing post-credits scene. Anyway, I really liked Virginia, and her relationship with Simon. And by the end, her relationship with Henry was okay, too, I guess. Because he risked his life for her. And I guess I don't know what else to say. It's not a great movie, but I would call it a good one. I liked it, more than I would have expected to based on how it starts out.

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