Don't Look Under the Bed (1999 TV Movie)
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I think my favorite character in this would have to be Larry. The "Imaginary friend". He acts so unhuman like sometimes which is perfect for this type of kids show. This can be happily viewed by adults, but it would be much more enjoyed by even a child as young as four. The sets that they used in the movie must have taken them a long time to build at how elaborate they were. So since it was a sort of childish movie with not a lot of in depth proportion to it, I give it an 8.5 out of 10. But it was a pretty good film.
According to Boogey legend an imaginary childhood friend should not be discarded so easily lest they become the feared boogeyman. So it was with Chambers's brother who lost his faith in the existence of imaginary friends during a serious illness. Now the friend has come to life and trying to reverse the curse.
Watching the film put me in mind of my niece when she was small. The elder of two sisters she had imaginary playmates, but she grew out of them after a fashion. Her younger sister never took up that particular fantasy though.
Chambers is way too old for the part she sure didn't look a convincing 14. That's the way it is, always casting people too old for teens in Hollywood. Still in her case she couldn't convince me she was a juvenile try as she may.
Don't Look Under The Bed is a charming fantasy which would have worked better with a real teen lead.
Don't Look Under the Bed follows Frances (Erin Chambers), a teenage girl living in a small town where, one day, strange things start happening. Dogs are on the roof, the high school's pool is filled with gelatin, and the letter "B" is spray painted all over town. Everyone is convinced that it's Frances who's pulling these pranks, but she befriends Larry Houdini (Ty Hodges)--an imaginary person who only she can see--who informs her that the Boogeyman is framing her. So she tries to figure out why he seems to have a bone to pick with her.
The film is full of twists and has some fun scenes that actually hold up fairly well considering the age of the movie and the target demographic.
Not that it's not without a little schmaltz, but believe it or not, compared to its counterparts, Don't Look Under the Bed isn't terribly cloying at all--possibly due to the fact that it's directed by Kenneth Johnson--the creator of The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk TV series. Whatever the reason, if you saw this movie as a child, chances are it stuck with you.
It's Disney Channel's only PG-rated DCOM--and for a good reason. The scenes with the Boogeyman are seriously creepy. They still haunt me to this day. However, they never make the film lose its youthful essence. Rather, it may be more appealing since it fails to insult its young audience. There's a good enough balance between the macabre and the jovial to maintain its fun nature.
The issues it deals with may not be the deepest, but it's no Dude, Where's My Car either. The themes include deep-rooted denial and growing up too fast. It gets its point across without feeling overly preachy. And even older audiences will find the intrinsic emotions relatable and may cause them to conjure up fond memories of their own childhood--much in a Toy Story type of way.
In the last 15 minutes, the characters venture into Boogeyland, which is a real highlight to this movie. The world that the filmmakers create is so spooky and detailed that we feel like we're there too. We wait throughout the whole story to find out where the Boogeyman goes when he's not creating chaos, and the answer definitely lives up to our expectations.
The film's biggest pitfall is its lead actress. She's alright when she's just conversing with other characters, but as soon as she shows any kind of grand emotion, her conviction is nowhere to be found.
But the plot holes are scarce and mostly towards the beginning, so we grant it forgiveness during its final act--which may the single greatest ending to any DCOM. In Don't Look Under the Bed the characters have a lot to lose, and while so many others of its kind take the easy way out, this one really works for it.
Twizard Rating: 84
Francis is a high school girl whose little brother Darwin has just recovered from leukemia, which has left the whole family in fear, wondering if he'll be alright of if he'll ever get sick again. When bizarre things begin to happen at the high school and then all over town like gelatin being dumped in the school swimming pool and a teacher's car being egged, no one knows what to think. Soon the suspicion is aimed towards Francis and she blames a strange boy, Larry, who tells her he is an imaginary friend. Trying to prove he exists, she only makes a fool of herself in front of her peers and blames him for the strange events in town. He tells her it's not him, but the bogeyman, and she just remains skeptical. It isn't long before, as in most cases with imaginary friends, her parents decide she needs professional help, but she has more on her mind to worry about. As it turns out, Larry is Darwin's imaginary friend, and Francis convinced Darwin to stop believing in him, and any imaginary friend with a creator who drives them away becomes a bogeyman. Also, Francis drove away her own imaginary friend, Zoe, who is a British girl with blonde hair and a pink dress, now the bogeyman responsible for attacking the town as revenge against Francis for abandoning her.
This movie proves that you are never too old to have imaginary friends, and that to be smart and logical you don't have to stop being creative. It was sort of a combination of Drop Dead Fred and the Secret World of Alex Mack, and it was comedic without being crude or vulgar. My only issue with it is the common stereotype that if you aren't a little kid but still have an imaginary friend, you could be crazy. That is an outdated and unfair assumption to make, whether its a movie or not. Also the "fighting the bogeyman" scene towards the end stretched out a bit too long, it became annoying. In the end Francis learns that nothing, no one, has the right to take away your imaginary friend, and that her brother's cancer and school didn't have to stop her from being imaginative, and you can still be grown-up and have pretend friends. There are very sad and memorable parts, in the end Francis even has a romantic interest in Larry and when she reunites with Zoe it is an amazing scene. The acting was pretty good, especially the role of Larry. Definitely worth watching.
What fascinates me about film is how robust it is. There are lots of approaches, and many work.
One approach is to center everything on archetypical (often stereotypical) faces. Then the plot and camera are all turned to the service of working the mental links those faces induce. That's the approach with much on TeeVee, and is the case here. One of these faces is so remarkable, I at first wondered whether it had been altered (beyond the makeup that is).
Redheaded Erin Chambers has one of those exploitable faces, and that's what motivates this project. She occupies a place on the cute side of Molly Ringwald, less perky than Judy Garland and more Irish than Alicia Witt. She acts well enough to survive in this kind of work.
One wonders what is in that head? Such a face drives away from real acting, both in the types of projects it attracts and in the cheap shortcuts it allows. It will be interesting to follow.