Movie Review: Hocus Pocus

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by Kenny Ortega

Starring: Bette Milder, Betty Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw, Thora Birch, Sean Murray

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Rating: PG (For some scary sequences, and for language)

We review another modern classic in theaters this week. As much as I wish we were having more new releases it’s been fun and nostalgic to be able to see films from our past on the big screen. We’ve made it to October so I HOPE the majority of our films this month have a Halloween/Horror theme. Obviously Hocus Pocus does. This film was originally released in 1993 and I’d imagine many of you have watched it with your significant other, kids, or grandkids. I hadn’t watched this film in maybe 4 or 5 years and I was excited to see how it held up. A side-note on Hocus Pocus, a sequel is in development for Disney+ so STAY TUNED.

Onto the film.

We start on Halloween night in 1693. This film takes place in Salem, Massachusetts (OF COURSE IT INVOLVES WITCHES.) We meet Thackery Binx (Murray) who is looking for his sister Emily as she has ran off to the Sanderson sisters’ cottage. We met our villians of the film in the form of three witches. Winifred (Midler) is the leader of the trio. She is selfish and truly only out for herself. Mary (Najimy) is an oddball (She barks like a dog?) Lastly there is Sarah (Parker) who is ditsy and also a flirt (She has a small romance with a bus driver.) The sisters create a potion to take the life/youth from young Emily to stay young. This kills her in the process. Thackery (Murray) tries in vain to save her and in the process gets turned into an immortal cat. The sisters are then found by the town mob and hung for their actions. But, before this can happen Winifred casts a spell that will allow the witches to return on Halloween night when any virgin lights the “Black Flame Candle.”

We cut to 300 years later. Of course it’s Halloween night. We meet our protagonists of the film. First is Max Dennison (Katz.) He is fresh from California and HATES this town. There is a small glimmer of hope for him. He has a crush named Allison (Shaw) but she doesn’t seem to be interested. She gives him back the phone number he sent her way (Smooth Max, real smooth.) When then meet Max’s younger sister Dani (Birch.) Immediately the chemistry between the trio, as well as, the sister works. I noticed subpar acting quite frequently in older films (flat acting.) I only counted a handful of times that the acting and dialogue fell short. I won’t delve anymore of the plot but I will say the sisters return.

This film surprisingly holds up from being released 27 years ago. The score is great throughout and helps aid the tension and excitement in the scenes where it is needed. We also get a song sung by none other than Bette Milder. That’s always great. Something else to take note of is the SFX. The witches fly, there are zombies, magic, and thunderous sparks. All of these surprisingly look good. Even on the big screen.

A note on this film. This is a “kids” film in part, however, there are several jokes that adults will catch and will make you laugh. You will have fun with this one.

Without many new releases these classics are leading the box office in the US. We saw Empire Strikes Back lead it, and this film was in the top 3. I’ve heard this will be in theaters throughout October so it’s a perfect time for a date night, or to take the kids/grandkids out for a fun evening. Many of you may own this film, or have watched it recently, but in my opinion nothing is better than seeing a film in the big screen. Don’t forget the popcorn. This film isn’t a masterpiece, but you’ll have a lot of fun for 90 minutes. 3 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper