I suppose everyone has films that hit a certain nostalgic spot in their heart. Films that we watched at a certain age and loved, and even though we might recognize as adults those films aren’t actually very good artistically, we still love them.
Hocus Pocus (1993) is one of those films for an entire generation, who have now grown up, had kids and made the film an annual Halloween tradition. I was not one of those kids. I was a senior in high school when the film came out, and I completely missed it. In fact, I only just watched the film for the first time last year. A fact I had completely forgotten until my family wanted to watch this sequel the other night.
After a flashback to Salem in olden times the film begins with properly in modern times with three teenage girls who like to play at being witches. Well, I say three girls, but it is really just two of them (played by Whitney Peak and Belissa Escobedo) the other girl (played by Lilia Buckingham) has moved on. She’s got a boyfriend and has become popular and has completely left the other two behind. This creates some of the central drama.
I liked this part of the story. The teens trying to figure out who they are (and who they are just might be witches) were interesting and fun. Not amazing, mind you, but I was there for it. One of the dads is played by Tony Hale and he’s always a joy to watch. Sam Richardson owns the local magic shop and he is a delight.
Then the three witches from the original movie show up (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) and my interest level flew out the window. Initially, the tone of the film balances humor, witchcraft, and teenage drama with sweetness, but once those three arrive it becomes a much broader, much dumber comedy. They have their moments. There is a scene in which they create basically a flash mob singing Blondie’s “One Way Or Another” that’s pretty fun and there are some funny moments with them not understanding modern life, but mostly I found them rather annoying. Whenever they were on screen I found myself wishing they weren’t.
I suspect those who have that nostalgic feeling towards the first film will enjoy this one. My wife seemed to like it and my kid laughed quite a bit. I found it an enjoyable enough way to spend a Saturday evening with my family, but I have to admit I was mostly waiting for the credits so I could watch another gore-soaked blood-bath by myself.