Yesterday Disney dropped the highly anticipated ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ film on Disney+. The sequel to the original ‘Hocus Pocus’ film (1993) has taken almost three decades to materialize, which is better than the three centuries the witches took to return the first time. But the film is like a trick-or-treat bag of candy. For every chocolate bar you get 20 pieces of the cheap candy that usually ends up getting thrown out. It’s a mixed bag for sure.
Spoilers will be included below
The film does bring back the original Sanderson Sisters: Winifred (Bette Midler,) Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker,) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) and they are the highlight. They feel just like they did in the original, for the most part.
New characters make up the bulk of this film, and they aren’t all terrible.
The issues lie in the direction the film went.
It starts off making the witches sympathetic villains. I do love the younger versions of the sisters, but somehow they go from being child-murdering, ruthless, evil….dark witches to somehow being sisters who were orphans, forced out of their home and just wanting to stay alive. It goes from that to the redemption of Book and Winifred at the end. In stark contrast to the original when it started with them killing a child, turning her brother into a cursed cat and then getting hung.
You don’t feel like the sisters are much of threat pretty much the entire way through the film.
How did they come back?
There is another Black Flame candle that was made by Gilbert, who owns a magic store in the old museum. Conveniently he has been keeping Book and a lot of the sister’s belongings since he saw them that Halloween night in 1993. He also tricks the new “witches,” Becca and Izzy, into lighting the candle to bring the Sanderson sisters back. Why because he’s a fan and thinks the sisters were misunderstood. This of course puts Becca and Izzy in danger.
There are some fun moments to the film, like when the new girls trick the sisters into thinking that face care lotions contain the souls of children at Walgreens.
Mary’s Roombas are amusing and the sisters losing the Sanderson sisters look-a-like contest is also fun. But overall the film feels like it’s trying to hard to harken back to original and yet it is mired down more by the lack of returning characters and the sisters running amok-amok-amok.
Instead of trying to suck the souls from children (there is none of that in this film) Winifred is obsessed with some forbidden spell which would make them (mostly her) all powerful. Of course, they use this excuse to bring back Billy Butcherson. His return was definitely in the positive category, but he’s wasted on a fetch quest with Gilbert, who is lying to him to use him too. (Gilbert is a terrible person, but it’s okay. He promises to tell everyone that Billy was not Winifred’s lover and that somehow forgives everything.)
None of the other characters return. There is no Max or Dani. Allison is also missing. Instead of Binx the cat, there is another black cat, that really serves no purpose other than giving the film a black cat.
While I did like the inclusion of “I’ll Put a Spell on You” in the original, the new film’s use of music feels forced. And the sisters returning with a song was weird. When they started the “One Way or Another” to once again cast a spell on the people of Salem, my daughter, who is the target demographic and a big “Hocus Pocus” fan said “I’m out.” She stopped watching the movie while the rest of us finished it.
I wanted to love this film so much. I think there were so many ways they could have made different choices that would have make the film so much more. Including some of the original kids as adults would have helped for sure. If they were going to try to hard to go for nostalgia that would have helped significantly.
It’s not just me. Many reviewers are saying the same kinds of things.
Of course you are allowed to like it and if you did I’m happy for you. I wanted to love it as a 29 year fan of the original. While I didn’t dislike every choice, the film felt very shallow.
I would give it a 5 out of 10. But I still adore the Sanderson sisters.
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