The Witching Of Ben Wagner

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • G
  • Children's

Peppered with a hint of the supernatural, this is a pat but effective family drama. George Wagner (Sam Bottoms) moves his wife and family, including son Ben (Justin Gocke), to a new town, where he begins a real estate job for Angelo Romano (Craig Clyde). Ben, a high school freshman, doesn't seem to get along with his busy, somewhat distant father. He finds...read more

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Peppered with a hint of the supernatural, this is a pat but effective family drama.

George Wagner (Sam Bottoms) moves his wife and family, including son Ben (Justin Gocke), to a new town, where he begins a real estate job for Angelo Romano (Craig Clyde). Ben, a high school freshman, doesn't seem to get along with his busy, somewhat distant father. He finds consolation with a

mysterious young girl, Regina (Bettina Rae), and her Grammy (Sylvia Sidney), who are both thought by the townspeople to be witches. Ben soon believes himself bewitched by Regina, a secret he shares with his sister, Liz (Jamie Ballard), and he becomes more confident, making the school's basketball

team and earning better grades, while still searching for his father's approval. Ben's snitty teenage sister, Susan (Elizabeth Shumway), who's trying to stay friends with the stuck-up rich girl Ashley Addison (Amy Allred), blackmails Liz into learning about Regina, causing a near-fatal accident

when Liz follows Ben to the lake and tumbles into a stream. She is saved by Ben, and as the family unites at the hospital, Susan confesses tearfully her abysmal behavior.

Meanwhile, Romano's efforts to develop high-rise condos on the land near the lake are spearheaded by George. Grammy puts a curse on him, causing him bad luck. Finally learning from his son, who is upset at his father's plans for the lake, George scares the potential investors away from the deal

with a false geology report. Romano fires George, who is promptly offered a job by Ashley's father (Scott McMillan). Grammy and the Wagners celebrate the good news, while Regina tells Ben that neither she nor Grammy are witches. They're just "different," and Ben's improved behavior has come from

within himself.

The well-plotted screenplay by Michael Marmorstein (PETE'S DRAGON, RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN) hits all the coming-of-age family-film bases, knocking out its life lessons in predictable, if mostly painless, fashion, even if the impossibly happy ending seems somewhat absurd. Paul Annett (THE BEAST

MUST DIE) has directed in workmanlike fashion, making believable not only the adolescent uncertainties and familial confusions but also the "witchcraft" subplot. Performances are adequate (if not much more) for the story's needs, although veteran Sylvia Sidney, spry, flashing-eyed, and wearing

jeans yet, provides the film's most genuinely entertaining sparks. Not surprisingly, given the content, the movie is technically a bit drab and was produced in part by the Disney Channel, where it was shown in 1990, and Brigham Young University, in which studios it was shot, along with some

gorgeous locations at Utah's Mirror Lake.

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: G
  • Review: Peppered with a hint of the supernatural, this is a pat but effective family drama. George Wagner (Sam Bottoms) moves his wife and family, including son Ben (Justin Gocke), to a new town, where he begins a real estate job for Angelo Romano (Craig Clyde).… (more)

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