Some of my best friends are ghosts.

Max (Ryan Ochoa) is an ordinary teenager, except that he owns a magic ring that can dispel evil ghouls. His two best friends Tara (Madison Pettis) and Nicky (Roshon Fegan) are ghosts. They’re hoping to find some way to reunite with their ghost parents. These three also face the evil Phears (Charlie Hewson), a ghoul with a plan to raise an army of undead and rule the world.

Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? begins as if you’re walking in halfway through the story. Max already has his magic ring, and there’s a huge info dump about everyone’s backstory. A quick internet search reveals that this is actually a sequel. The first film, Mostly Ghostly, was released in 2008. None of the marketing for this new movie mentions that it’s a sequel, and the only returning cast member is Madison Pettis, with¬†everyone else¬†recast. I imagine it must have been a long, hard journey getting this thing greenlit, which is makes it sadder how bland the final product is.

Allegedly based on a book by prolific kid lit author R.L. Stine, the movie lacks Stine’s gift of taking something ordinary from childhood and making just creepy enough for a young audience. Instead, the filmmakers have chosen to go for laughs. There are evil forces plotting to overthrow humanity, and yet all the characters care about is practical jokes. Huge chunks of the runtime are devoted the characters’ practical joke wars with one another. All this goofball comedy just wastes time, adding nothing to the story. Our hero has two ghosts for friends, and yet the two ghosts are non-starters, adding little to the story. They just kind of hang around and show up every once in a while. Max has a crush on a girl and gets tongue-tied around her, which is the closest thing the movie has to an arc.

The other paranormal/horror-lite aspects of Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? are just as dull and flat as the comedy bits. I don’t like buffoon villains, ones whose idiocy is their own undoing, and that’s our baddie Phears all over. He’s so bumbling and goofy that he ceases to be interesting. As for atmosphere or scares, sharp blue lighting and a few plastic skulls and gravestones don’t equal monster movie goodness. There are a few interesting moments where Max is chased by some robe-wearing goons, but they are fleeting, quickly exchanged for more slapstick.

Pacing is that weird alchemy of film, where writing, performance, and editing all play a role. This movie’s pacing is way off. After the climax, in which our heroes confront ultimate evil, the movie goes on and on, with a lengthy soccer game and a big dance sequence like the one from Slumdog Millionaire. The whole time, I was wondering, “Why isn’t the movie over already?”

What else? Legendary comedian Joan Rivers has a cameo as Max’s grandmother, where she gets to throw around a couple of genial one-liners. I guess she’s here to give the movie some sort of legitimacy. You’d have to be a deeply entrenched fan of Rivers to watch this just for her one scene.

At least Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? looks good on Blu-ray, with vivid details, natural flesh tones, and rich blacks in the 1.78:1/1080p HD transfer. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is also solid. There are no extras except a DVD copy and ultraviolet download.

verdictGhoul-ty.

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