Ahhh, don’t you just love it when a movie gives you a warm, fuzzy, safe feeling? It’s like when you catch a couple of random clips of Mary Poppins on the TV: you can’t help but fixate on it because of the easy happiness it brings you. It’s pretty rare for a sequel to do that, but you know what? I just couldn’t help myself with this one.
Hocus Pocus 2 takes place exactly 29 years after the first movie, which just so happens to be the exact time gap between the two movies in real life too. Since the last time someone lit the black flame candle, Salem has changed quite a bit, what with new advancements in technology and cultural shifts. However, one thing remains: everyone is fascinated by the story of the Sanderson Sisters. When they return for real, the wicked trio seek revenge by wreaking havoc on the whole town, leaving new witch Becca (Whitney Peak) to fix it before it’s too late.
I’ll start off with my usual random, superfluous fact: I watched this on Disney+ with the subtitles on. My favourite snippet was [Mary farts]. I’m not kidding – they really put that in there.
What Hocus Pocus 2 brings is a modernised trip down memory lane for those of a certain age who remember this as one of the movie highlights of their childhood. And you know what? Nine times out of ten, it really succeeds in that regard. What’s so great about it is that it’s not just a carbon copy of the 1993 classic – it does extract a few songs and jokes from its predecessor but it inserts them into an all new storyline, keeping it fresh yet with a hint of nostalgia.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy return to their supporting roles with the exact same energy, but no one is denying that Bette Midler is the glue that holds the whole thing together. Midler steps back into the pointed shoes of Winifred Sanderson as if she never left them, and her physicality has not even slightly been tainted by age. Plus there’s a bonus sighting of Hannah Waddingham that is simply uncriticisable.
Do I kind of wish this was filmed on 35mm like the original? Of course! But sadly, that’s just not how things work these days. Even the original Hocus Pocus has been remastered to 4K at this point – it’s just what the kids want to see these days. However, this technical advancement never really takes too much away from the magic and the use of special effects in the closing sequences actually turned out to be quite visually impressive.
What I’m saying is, it’s really difficult to review this without any sort of nostalgia-bias. In this instance though, it feels like that’s okay. I mean, who’s going to watch the sequel if they didn’t see and love the first movie anyway? So yes, my rating is probably boosted by the fact that I loved this world so much as a kid… but I don’t even remotely care.
Hocus Pocus 2 is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.
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