Review: ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ pleases fans, but can’t beat the original classic

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‘Twas 29 years ago that the Sanderson Sisters; Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) put a spell on the world for the first time in “Hocus Pocus.”

“Hocus Pocus 2” was released on Sept. 30, it got nearly double the rating from Rotten Tomatoes as its predecessor. The original cast returned for the sequel.

As for the movie itself, it starts out a little boring. When we meet the witches, it gets a lot more interesting.

The movie starts out in a village from the 1500s in Salem, Massachusetts. It is Winifred’s 16th birthday, and her sisters made her Jell-O. This gives comedic relief to a stressful start with arguments, pushing and shoving. Winifred is terribly rude to her sisters as always. It isn’t until the end that we see how much Winifred’s sisters really mean to her.

Once Winifred is given her spellbook (named “Book”), she commits arson. Midler’s voice hasn’t aged a day with her signature call of her beloved spellbook.

The transition from the past to the present was pretty abrupt. The song during the transition is good, but it doesn’t really fit with what’s happening at that time. Right after that, the high school drama is a little annoying because that isn’t what the movie is about. At this point, we don’t know where the Sanderson Sisters are currently unless you’ve seen the first movie and know they are “dead.”

The movie; after the transition, follows Becca (Whitney Peak) and her friend Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) on Becca’s 16th birthday. Their first stop after school is to the magic shop.

On the way, they run into Mayor Traske (Tony Hale). Traske is portrayed as a nice guy and one thing that he does really well is his fake laugh. This laugh goes on for only about thirty seconds, but it is very contagious. What seems like just a bit actually makes you laugh because he just doesn’t stop laughing. However, Traske happens to be a descendant of the priest who kicked Winifred out of Salem.

We also meet Gilbert (Sam Richardson), who can be seen as both the protagonist and the antagonist. His character is probably the most interesting and changes the most throughout the movie. Gilbert is also why I think there will be a “Hocus Pocus 3,” whatever that may look like.

Once Becca and Izzy light the candle in the forest, the Sanderson Sisters break through the ground, splitting the ground where they rested. 29 years later, none of the Sanderson Sisters look any older.

Contributed Photo by Matt Kennedy/Disney Enterprises. Left to right: The Sanderson Sisters – Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), Winifred (Bette Midler) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) – are baffled by everyday objects at Walgreens.

We get more comedy when the Sanderson Sisters see what the real world is like now. The first stop is Walgreens and we see what people might think if they were dead for 300 years. The scene is hilarious because they have never seen automated doors, lotions or any other common things in a Walgreens. The Sanderson Sisters create a comedic trio while exploring modern day technology.

What disappointed me the most is the song choice they had Bette Midler sing. The first movie featured Midler performing “I Put a Spell on You” by Screaming Jay Hawkins. This time, it was “One Way or Another” by Blondie. It isn’t that Midler’s rendition of the song was bad, but “I Put a Spell on You” was iconic and this was just good. It was a step down musically.

“I Put a Spell on You” also makes more sense because she is literally putting a spell on the citizens of the town whether it be the original where she makes them dance or the sequel where she makes them find the mayor. Even though the song fits the scene, Midler’s version of “I Put a Spell on You” is such a classic that it could’ve and should’ve come back for the sequel.

Overall, the movie was good, but there are only a few sequels that could go toe-to-toe with the original. “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” take the cake when it comes to dynamic originals and sequels.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put “Hocus Pocus” and “Hocus Pocus 2” on this list. It was still good, and fans will most likely like the movie. However, I am going to disagree with Rotten Tomatoes and put “Hocus Pocus” above “Hocus Pocus 2.”

“Hocus Pocus 2” is available to stream exclusively on Disney+.

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Brian Rubin
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