Disney’s production Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999) instantly wheedled itself into my heart when I was a young teenager. As I watched the TV movie now, I was reminded me of the small crush I had on the actor Ty Hodges. This crush remained with me throughout my teen years as I searched the Disney channel for the film every Halloween. Fortunately for me, I have rediscovered the movie on Disney+. Anyone with the Disney+ subscription can find Don’t Look Under the Bed in the Halloween section. I highly recommend this movie to all youth and their parents, assuming they can overlook the cheesy costumes.
Don’t Look Under the Bed – The Plotline
The story takes place in a mid-sized town where a family of two parents and three children live. The heroine of the story is Frances, the middle child who skipped a year of middle school and is entering her freshman year of high school. Frances, like her mother, believes strongly in logic. Frances’s belief in placing aside childish ways leads her to dissuade her younger brother Darwin from believing in his imaginary friend. Then, someone begins making mischief around the town and Frances notices Larry Houdini.
Larry repeatedly tells Frances that no one in her school or in her family can see him. She isn’t even supposed to see be able him. That’s when Larry concludes Frances must need his help. Together, they form an alliance and find the culprit behind the town disturbances. Defeating the culprit proves to be tricky, since everyone suspects Frances to be behind the turbulence. However, when the nemesis captures Darwin and draws him under the bed, Larry and Frances have no choice but to follow.
Don’t Look Under the Bed – From a Youth’s Perspective
Ty Hodges did an excellent performance as Larry Houdini. He was enthusiastic, energetic, and tender-hearted with the young children. To an innocent and hopeful girl, he was a desirable friend…and possible boyfriend. He appeared to fancy Frances, something that was affirmed when Larry kissed Frances in an ending scene.
The movie had plenty of action and thrilling scenes for young people. The scare tactics, depending on the age of the child, will either excite or terrorize. Because this film is from 1999, the effects and costumes are cheap and old-fashioned. The mouse on the culprit’s foot was obviously nothing more than a toy glued onto an ugly boot. Today’s youth will see past this instantly and as a result may not like the movie.
I greatly enjoyed this movie in my younger years, before special effects were made commonplace. I could somewhat relate to the heroine, such as her being an overachiever in school. I fancied Larry and wanted to see more of him, much like Frances did. What I couldn’t relate to was having a younger sibling. Darwin and his past poor health were essential to the plotline, something which other youth may better relate to.
Don’t Look Under the Bed – From an Adult’s Perspective
Disney’s TV movie is a clean coming-of-age story that celebrates diversity in age and culture. The film centered around Ty Hodges and Erin Chambers, who were only 18 and 21 years old at the time. Though their roles as characters were somewhat less than traditional, the director did well in showing how a real high school friendship could blossom into something more over time. Why Larry was at the high school to begin with was never fully explained. This is an unanswered question that never occurred to me as a young teen.
As an adult, I better appreciated the clever twists involving children’s imaginations. The climactic scene when the culprit took Darwin and Larry and Frances followed was less impressive to me than when I first saw the movie. I attribute this to my failing imagination, because few people have imaginations like that of a child.
Don’t Look Under the Bed – Conclusion
If my reader is blessed with a child’s imagination, or if he or she can overlook the tacky costumes, then I highly recommend Disney’s Don’t Look Under the Bed. It’s a creative turn on the boogeyman tale, perfect for clean and goreless Halloween viewing. I think young and impressionable teens may find the friendship between a boy and a girl intriguing without being sensual. Between this friendship and the occasional mild scare tactic, this TV movie is fit for the entire family.