Great movie, funny title. Classic DCOM. What a cast! We’ve got Matt O’Leary from Spy Kids 2, Laura Vandervoort from Alley Cats Strike, Myles Jeffrey from Stepsister from Planet Weird, Charles Shaughnessy from The Nanny, Robert Carradine from Lizzie McGuire, and the incomparable Caroline Rhea from Sabrina the Teenage Witch and so many other things! Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire was written by Lindsay Naythons and Robert Keats and directed by Steve Boyum (who also directed Johnny Tsunami, Stepsister from Planet Weird, and Motocrossed for Disney Channel). I remember seeing this film as part of the channel’s classic Halloween lineup in the early 2000s. What sets it apart is that it doesn’t have a huge emphasis on Halloween as a holiday. Right in the middle of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but years before Twilight, Mom’s Got a Date brought vampire lore to a young audience (significantly younger than the target audience for most other vampire stuff, I’d say). The Hansen kids, Adam, Chelsea, and Taylor, have a single working mom, Lynette (Caroline Rhea), and their father is getting remarried. When Adam fabricates a writing assignment, his mother punishes him and forbids him to attend a highly anticipated concert. Big sister Chelsea mouths off and gets herself grounded too, so no hot date for her. The siblings decide to offer their mother to strangers on the internet. That way, mom will go on her own date and free them up to sneak out more easily. Who do they choose on the ‘net? A dude with “email@example.com” as his email address. That sounds SUPER safe.
This plot has a couple necessary steps before the kids make their mother a sacrificial lamb for wolfsbane. They choose the grocery store as a meeting place and beg their mom to buy chocolate chips for pancakes like they had during happier times, before their parents divorced. This is where she “bumps into” the mystery man, Dimitri Denatos aka wolfsbane. Adam and Chelsea don’t even think he’s the same guy they contacted online, but he sure is. After Lynette agrees to a date with the suave Dimitri, little Taylor turns around in the parking lot and sees him drop his groceries and transform into a bat. From there, it’s a wild goose chase in which the kids (beginning with Taylor) try to save their mother. Yes, Dimitri is a vampire who wants to take Lynette captive. First, he tries to get her to naturally fall in love with him. Nice dinner, dancing at Lynette’s favorite rockabilly joint, listening to her sing with the band, then a stroll at the harvest festival. All the while, the older siblings try to intercept ‘ole wolfsbane, and Taylor sneaks out with Malachi Van Helsing, the vampire hunter (Lizzie McGuire’s dad).
Adam is a creepy 13-year-old. First he gets the idea to send his mom off with a stranger. Then he promises some loser from school a date and A KISS with his sister Chelsea in order to buy back his concert ticket. But Dimitri the vampire is even creepier. Charles Shaughnessy was perfect for this part (not that I’m saying he’s creepy in real life; I don’t know him). I learned on Twitter that Shaughnessy guest-starred on an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch that aired on the exact same night as Mom’s Got a Date. And he dates Caroline Rhea in both of them! Amazing. Right before he puts her into a trance, Lynette comes to an interesting realization at the festival. Dimitri isn’t the guy she wants to be with, but he has helped her rediscover the version of herself that she wants to be. Bottom line, she wants to have more fun and enjoy life again. In the last act of the film, the kids must go to Dimitri’s haunted mansion and steal his coffin so that he won’t survive the sunrise in a few hours. He’s a little too smart for that and vows to take Chelsea and Lynette when Adam tries to sail away on the coffin.
In the end, Van Helsing arrives with Taylor (anyone else a little concerned that this boy is gallivanting all over town with a strange man?). Once everyone is in his lair, the vampire almost overtakes them all. This is really graphic. Dimitri is about to bite Adam’s neck!!! But Lynette’s trance is broken by her children’s cries for help. “Only true love can break a vampire’s trance,” Adam tells her. “I love you guys more than anything,” Lynette says to her three kids. Van Helsing nails Dimitri’s coffin shut, and then it’s implied that Van Helsing and Lynette have a thing for each other. Never too late for a sequel, Disney! Like I said, I’m no vampire expert, but I think this is a solid Halloween movie with nostalgic value and a sweet ending.