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Film Review

Hocus Pocus 2

Directed by Anne Fletcher
From: Disney+
Released: 09.30.22
Review by Julian Lytle | September 29, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Basically: The Sanderson Sisters from the first Hocus Pocus movie return to terrorize the town of Salem—it’s up to a young girl and her best friend to try and send them away once again. 

Well, here goes. Let’s talk about the sequel to a movie that I never watched. When the original came out, my teenage self thought it looked wack—and looking at the grosses back then, I wasn’t the only one. Yet somehow, the magic of basic cable made this a cult classic. This led The Mouse to cook up a new one for the streaming wars. 

Hocus Pocus 2 brings back Bette Midler as Winifred, Kathy Najimy as Mary, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah. This time the Sanderson witches face off against Becca (Whitney Peak), a young witch who accidentally brings them back after being manipulated by someone they know. Becca is helped by her best friend Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) who seems completely out of sorts during this Halloween adventure. The Sanderson Sisters want to get Winifred’s magic book back in order to perform a crazy powerful spell to gain immense power so they won’t disappear again and can finally get revenge on the town of Salem. 

Photo by Matt Kennedy © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

While Hocus Pocus 2 didn’t do much for me, there were a few things I found interesting. I like the dynamic between Becca and Izzy—while trying to stop these evil witches, they still go through regular teen drama, like issues with their other popular friend Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), whom they feel distant from. This part feels like a Freeform TV show or even a little bit of Charmed added into a regular 90s-style Disney movie plot. A whole new trio of young women versus the OG evil trio sounds more interesting than the original plot—at least to me. 

One thing this movie does well is its start with a flashback to the Sandersons when they were young—before they became witches. The young actresses who play Winifred, Mary, and Sarah do such a good job that I wish the whole movie remained in the times before they became evil witches to show them learning magic. I think it’s good that the witches are evil but it got boring for me. Even the small chance of redemption left me wanting more of the witches as kids in the 17th century figuring out magic with wonder. 

Photo by Matt Kennedy © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Even though I feel Hocus Pocus 2 is relatively weak, the cast seems to be having fun on screen together. Sam Richardson as Gilbert and Doug Jones returning as Billy Butcherson add some good comedic slapstick elements. There’s a lot of music to soundtrack each scene and the effects are also pretty good but shouldn’t be scary to little kids, even the magic book with the eye. And the Sandersons interacting with the world is funny but, even then, some of the jokes confused me—like them being amazed at an automatic door even though there were automatic doors in 1993. I was a bit befuddled there. 

In the End: Hocus Pocus 2 doesn’t feel like a total waste of time but it also feels like the most Disney Channel movie I’ve seen on Disney+ since its debut.

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