A Witches’ Ball

Little Beatrix, age 12, goes to witching school. It’s like whatever the Harry Potter school is called, only without proper special effects, so the magic is mostly just stuff they can get away with rolling backward. It would be embarrassing if anyone in the film had a sense of shame.

Beatrix is in fact about to “become full witch” which does not involve a witch period as I first suspected. It means she passed her final exam (she made a dead rose come back to life) and will join her fellow new witches at a graduation ceremony just for MV5BZWI0OTczMTItNzFlNy00MjIwLThjYzMtNTIxODQ2ZDQ0N2Q3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjI4Mzg5OTg@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1497,1000_AL_them – the 642nd annual Witches’ Ball, on Halloween night. She’ll graduate alongside her mother, who, being a non-witch, has just converted, and the bitchy witch who’s been bullying her at school for not being “pure blooded” enough or some such bullshit.  Anyway, as class valedictorian, Beatrix receives her crystal ball ahead of the ceremony, for inspiration. And she immediately breaks it. Well, bitchy, witchy Jasmine does, but it amounts to Beatrix being in big trouble – possibly barred from witchery forever. So she enlists the help of a talking pumpkin (voiced by Weird Al) and her enchanted pet rat (voiced by NSYNC’s Joey Fatone) to solve an excessively lame set of riddles that will somehow mend her broken ball.

Even for a knock-off, made for TV (I’m assuming) kids’ witch movie, A Witches’ Ball is excessively mediocre. There are no production values to speak of, so instead I’ll just list some incontrovertible facts. The quest feels like an episode of Dora The Explorer. There’s a talent show whose sole existence is to provide an excuse for a wand-themed rap. The magic comes and goes at someone else’s convenience (definitely not mine). There’s a pop song that sounds dangerously like copyright infringement (Girls Just Wanna Rip Off Other Girls?). There’s an inexplicable adult-wide blind-spot where no grownup can identify bullying when it happens right in front of them. And perhaps most egregiously, there’s a lisp. I don’t know when we decided as a culture that no cute kid was complete without an inability to pronounce the letter R. I find it particularly offensive when a kid is forced to pretend to have a lisp. This kid is 12 years old – that’s not a cute lisp, that’s a speech impediment. Fake lisps are unforgivable.

Anyway, I frankly cannot fathom how you’re managing to celebrate Halloween without this movie in your life. Obviously.

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