September 29, 2022 Hocus Pocus 2 (Movie Review)
Back in the summer of 1993 some big family friendly films hit screens all over; include box office blockbuster Jurassic Park, Free Willy, Rookie of the Year, and also Hocus Pocus. Fairing decently in theaters, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ Hocus Pocus’ story followed three eccentric witches from the late 1600s resurrected with a nefarious plot to take over Salem. A fun film with a great cast, unfortunately Hocus Pocus did not meet commercial success expectations at the time. Maybe it should have been released around Halloween rather than in the summer, but either way, you could say Hocus Pocus did not need any help, because it has built a massive cult following.
In fact, Hocus Pocus’ popularity has been so strong that many have pined for a sequel for many years now. Through the decades rumors of a sequel swirled around, but this far down the line, almost no one could imagine a new Hocus Pocus film would ever become a reality. Then to the surprise of many, official word came down in 2021 that there would in fact be a Hocus Pocus 2. A delightful surprise for long time fans of the original film, Hocus Pocus 2 will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, September 30, 2022. So, the big question is, does this sequel fly as high as the original?
In truth, it is always difficult to make a sequel thirty years after an original film. Although, this trick has become common these days; prime examples include Bill & Ted Face the Music in 2020, Coming 2 America in 2021, and Top Gun: Maverick in 2022. The real question is why make a sequel so many decades after the original release? Well, that is an essay within itself; some would say money, others would say because it is a familiar story, but the most popular opinion is because such films have ground swell of fanfare. For the sake of not being cynical, let us take the latter point of view and say it is purely for the fans; and sometimes revisiting these stories works, just look at the success of Cobra Kai.
Anyway, Hocus Pocus 2 has all main ingredients for success. Directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal 2009, Dumplin 2018), the memorable Sanderson Sisters are reprised by the original cast – Bette Midler (Beaches 1988, The First Wives Club 1996), Sarah Jessica Parker (Mars Attacks! 1996, Sex and the City series), and Kathy Najimy (Sister Act 1992, The Wedding Planner 2001). Creating such unique persona for the Sanderson Sisters all those years ago, you would have to think bringing them back for the sequel was a no brainer. That said, the three ladies do a fitting job of reprising their roles as said Sanderson Sisters.
In Hocus Pocus 2 Midler, Najimy, and Parker pick up exactly where they left off with their characters and show they have not lost their wicked magic together. Accidentally resurrected, Izzy (Belissa Escobedo: Don’t Look Deeper series, American Horror Stories series) and Becca (Whitney Peak: Molly’s Game 2017, Home Before Dark series) are two teenage friends teaming together to stop the sisters before they cause chaos. Will they success or will Salem be conquered by Winifred, Sarah, and Mary?
All in all, the plot is decent enough to continue the story of Hocus Pocus. Izzy, Becca, and their friend Cassie (Lilia Buckingham: Dirt series, Crown Lake series) are likeable enough and each are portrayed well. Additionally, the settings are all well captured as you get a tour of modern-day Salem. All this said, Hocus Pocus 2 honestly feels more like a made for tv movie rather than a theatrical feature. Perhaps a minor gripe, it cannot be denied that the production of the film feels this way, and to some, this might take it down a few notches. This is made for tv movie feeling is also amplified by the over the top, and sometimes goofy portrayal of the more minor characters. However, this is not to say the film is not fun or enjoyable to watch… because it can be at times. Perhaps Hocus Pocus 2 would have benefited from a theatrical release in addition to a streaming option. After all, when we go to the theater it is an experience… and we really need to get back that. All this said, Cryptic Rock gives Hocus Pocus 2, 3 out of 5 stars.