‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Might Bewitch Some New Fans

Hocus Pocus 2 Might Bewitch Some New Fans

Jake Gottfried, Staff Writer

Movie lovers seem to always want more from their favorite characters. They want to see the next chapter in the story whether the movie came out last year or years ago.

“Hocus Pocus,” a 1990s Disney Halloween season children’s film, wasn’t all that well received. However, people loved the three villains, the Sanderson sisters, three idiotic evil witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy.

As someone who was forced to watch it at school once, and then at a Halloween party, I just did not get into it. The comedy lost steam fast for me. The main characters were boring and forgettable, and the story itself was just nothing. Look, I’m not going to say you’re wrong if you like the original, but you can’t say I’m wrong for disliking it.

From what I remember, a new kid in town gets bullied, and because he’s a virgin, the three evil witches were released. The witches try to do a musical number to hypnotize the town, but they are defeated. I didn’t rewatch that movie to refresh myself going into the sequel because I REALLY didn’t care.

I watched the sequel because I heard it was decent and would be a good family film to watch with my mother and younger brother. Also, I was bored and couldn’t think of anything else to do, which I think is also why this movie was made.

So, now that it’s been almost 30 years and the stars, who peaked in the 90s, are well past their prime, here comes the sequel, available exclusively on Disney+, and it’s as good as I thought it would be.

Written by Jen D’Angelo and directed by Anne Fletcher, the new “HP” film follows three new teenagers, Becca (Whitney Peak), her ally and friend, Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and anther friend who the two are not on the best of terms with, Cassie (Lilia Buckingham).

Becca and her friends are into witch stuff, so as part of her birthday tradition and at the suggestion of the owner of a magic shop (played by Sam Richardson), use a candle that causes the Sanderson sisters to return and try to take over Salem.

This movie is honestly not bad. Still, I get people who didn’t like either the original or the sequel. Such distaste makes sense since what works and what is flawed in the flicks are pretty much the same in the sequel and original.

What I don’t get are people who like the original and not this outing. This is practically the perfect sequel to “Hocus Pocus.” I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie; it’s no “Top Gun: Maverick,” where the creative team took the time and effort to improve on the effects, story and characters to create a far better sequel. However, it is exactly what a movie-goer would want from a “Hocus Pocus” sequel.

What did this movie do right? Well, first of all, the Sanderson sisters – Midler, Parker and Najimy – give it their all. I can’t believe how good they are. While their schtick got old fast in the first movie, it’s fantastic throughout here.

The opening sequence, which is a backstory of how the sisters became witches with three child actors playing the younger versions of the Sanderson sisters, is spot on and pretty funny. As I watched, I was afraid this would be the movie’s peak. However, not this time, “Hocus Pocus II” is really funny throughout.

Middle, Parker, and Najimy have great chemistry as a comedy trio. It feels like they have known each other for years. I don’t know how they felt about these roles in general, but it feels like they are having a good time as they give 110 percent. The slapstick, their idiocy, even when they sing a parody of Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back” titled “The Witch is Back” made me laugh my butt off. I laughed practically every time they were on screen. This is good because everything else I mostly had a problem with.

The side characters are more miss than hit. I liked Gilbert fine. However, the forgettable Doug Jones zombie character from the first movie makes a pointless and unnecessary return.

Worse yet, the three main friends of the film are boring and bland. The young actors aren’t bad, but they are given very little to work with and are completely forgettable. The greatest conflict these characters face is that Cassie didn’t invite Becca and Izzy to her party. The dumb boyfriend character who is oblivious to being a jerk sometimes got a bigger laugh out of me than these three.

The movie was predictable and dragged on, but I laughed more times than I would like to admit. And I laughed at the jokes on purpose and not how dated or lame they were. So, the movie does what it should.

Sure, it has most of the same problems as the original, but it improved on what people liked in general. People who love the first movie should love this movie too, and people who didn’t like the movie might enjoy this one. It’s nothing more than a decent movie, but it is a decent movie that lacks anything magic but can conjure up a good family movie night.