tek's rating: meh and three quarters

Girl vs. Monster, on Disney Channel
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This first aired in 2012, but I didn't see it until 2017, on a rerun. There's a 15-year-old girl named Skylar (Olivia Holt, who would later star in Cloak & Dagger), who has never experienced fear in her life. (Despite that, it seems weird to me that the movie makes it sound like she's never even heard of the concept of fear, or at the very least has never heard of certain specific fears which are very common.) Anyway, she has two best friends, Sadie and Henry, who are both quite familiar with fear. (I'd even say it seems like Sadie might have at least one type of anxiety disorder.) Skylar also has a friend named Ryan, who is the lead guitarist in a band. And Ryan has an on-again/off-again relationship with the band's lead singer, Myra. But their relationship is currently "off," and it's obvious to pretty much everyone (except Skylar) that Ryan has a crush on Skylar. Which makes Myra act all jealous and possessive, and rather jerky. It also makes her do something very dangerous, which ends up putting her out of commission for most of the remainder of the movie. So, Ryan asks Skylar to take Myra's place singing with the band at the upcoming Halloween party in a spooky old mansion. (In fact, I think something he says to Myra about this is actually pretty thoughtless.) Skylar agrees, but there's just one problem: her overprotective parents never let her out of the house on Halloween night. And while they always have to go out that night themselves (for a reason they always lie about to Skylar), this Halloween they leave their trainee, Cobb, to make sure she doesn't leave. They also set the house's alarm to go off if she tries to leave.

The reason Skylar's parents do all this is because of something that was revealed to the audience earlier than it was to Skylar herself, but she learns the truth when she turns off the house's electricity, to keep the alarm from going off when she sneaks out to the party. The truth is, her parents are monster hunters. Although the monsters come in many different forms, they're all fairly ghostly in some ways, and so can be caught and imprisoned in much the same way as in Ghostbusters. So of course, shutting off the power releases all the monsters her parents have caught and contained over the past fifteen years. Most importantly, this includes a witchy-ghosty sort of woman named Deimata. (The whole time I was watching the movie, it sounded to me like she was being called "Demona," like a certain gargoyle, but the internet says it's Deimata, and I trust it more than I trust my ears.) There are also a couple of monsters whose names I don't recall ever hearing at all in the movie, but the internet tells me they're called Theodosia (a sort of schoolmarm/witch) and Bob (a scarecrow). I guess they weren't among the monsters released when Skylar turned off her house's power, because Theodosia had been haunting Sadie and Bob had been haunting Henry their whole lives. But they were apparently Deimata's hench-monsters before she got caught by Skylar's parents fifteen years ago, and now they go back to working for her. And it's not long before the three monsters catch Skylar's parents, so it's up to Skylar, Sadie, Henry, and Cobb, to stop all the monsters. (Not just those three, but a bunch of random monsters who crash the Halloween party.) Unfortunately, the reason Skylar has never experienced fear is precisely because Deimata had been imprisoned ever since Skylar was a baby. (This makes sense for a reason I don't want to spoil.) So now, Skylar is experiencing fifteen years worth of fear, without ever having learned any coping mechanisms.

I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. On the whole, I didn't think the movie was very good, but it had some good points. While some of the dialogue and special effects were kind of cheesy, I did think the nature of the monsters and how that nature related to the human characters was reasonably interesting. And that relationship did make the way of ultimately defeating the monsters a bit more interesting than just using ghost-hunting weapons. (Although the weapons certainly helped. And did lead to some amusing comments from Cobb about steampunk.) The way each character (including Ryan) confronted their fears also led to some decent character and plot development, I guess. Also, I thought the band's songs were okay. (Ryan, Skylar, and Myra are all fairly good singers.) Anyway, I'm glad to have finally seen the movie so I can cross it off my list of things I need to watch. Even if I have absolutely no interest in ever seeing it again.

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