The Oscar Project Reviews
Hocus Pocus 2 is not the original, and that’s just fine. It doesn’t have to be in order to be a fun movie that families can enjoy during the Halloween season.
Nothing will ever come close to capturing the magic of the Halloween classic that is Hocus Pocus (affiliate link), originally released in 1993. Still, there is plenty here to find fun in. The film opens with a look back at the days of early Salem, much like the first time, but this time the Sanderson Sisters are children. The three young girls that play them at this age are spot on and do a good job of showing which is which, without falling into parody. The only complaint about the opening of the film was that it went a bit long.
When it comes to the actresses we know as the Sanderson Sisters, Bette Midler is still the best of the three. Her performance felt the most akin to what it was the first time around, while Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker’s performances both felt a bit forced. On the other hand, the trio of girls playing the high school friends Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) were excellent. Their performances felt effortless and they played the dynamics of the friendship well through good times and bad.
The creators placed plenty of Easter Eggs throughout, beyond the obvious. Several flashbacks included footage from the original film, edited to create backstories for characters we meet for the first time here. We see a black cat in the Sanderson House museum and in my favorite bit, we get to see Billy Butcherson yet again, still played by Doug Jones. The fan service is tactful and not overdone to the point of detracting from the story.
The ending of the film didn’t feel overly engineered and did lead to a satisfying redemption for the Sanderson Sisters, even if it did leave things open for more sequels down the road. I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, but it still felt like Hocus Pocus (affiliate link) and didn’t destroy the charm of the original. For a generation that has grown up with the first film and watched it every Halloween, they now have one to show their kids.
6 out of 10