In his review of the original Hocus Pocus Roger Ebert said “But watching the movie is like attending a party you weren’t invited to, and where you don’t know anybody, and they’re all in on a joke but won’t explain it to you.” I can’t think of a better way to describe my experience with this film. I did not grow up with it and when I saw it I was completely unmoved by the experience. It wasn’t awful but I found the virgin shaming to be off-putting for a Disney film and the whole thing to be nothing special. I can think of so many scary Disney movies that are more imaginative with far more heart. I have a whole series on my youtube channel called Disney Scares Month (with a new month starting next week!).
Now we have Hocus Pocus 2 and I’m left in a weird position as a critic. I do not think it is a good film but as the franchise continues to elude me I have no idea what the legions of fans of the original will think of it. If you love it knock yourself out. Enjoy it. Who cares what I think?
So here’s why I don’t think Hocus Pocus 2 is a good movie. First, the very weak story. They of course find a reason to bring the Sanderson Sisters back but then they dont give them anything interesting to do. They literally spend around 20 minutes in a Walgreens making jokes that feel like bad improv. I know they are goofy in the original but they were also scary and legit threats. Not any more. This movie’s idea for a joke is Mary rides 2 roombas instead of a broomstick. This is repeated multiple times and if that does it for you in the humor department I guess you’ve found your movie.
Disney has spent the last 20 years watering down nearly every villain in their canon and it’s no different here. Of course, we get the tragic backstory and their redemption arc. These women are huge money-makers for the studio so they aren’t going to have them pose an actual threat to the teens or be legitimately scary. That would actually require Disney to take a risk with their characters…
I will give the movie credit that the 3 teen girls are a definite upgrade over the teens from the original film with Belissa Escobedo stealing the show (I have loved her in everything I’ve seen her in particularly the canceled too soon The Baker and the Beauty.) The script doesn’t give the teens much to do but I enjoyed their performances.
You get some fun songs (you know me and musical numbers!) but they are unevenly distributed through the movie and new cast-members like Hannah Waddingham and Tony Hale are barely used and not in an inspired way. I’ve honestly seen a lot of DCOMS that had more energy, humor and legit scares than what is offered here (try Don’t Look Under the Bed, Phantom of the Megaplex, Twitches, Halloweentown etc…) or give Tim Burton’s underrated Frankenweenie a watch. It has so much more to offer than this lounging around in Walgreens movie…
If you love the original Hocus Pocus you may love this. I have no idea but from my perspective there is very little story, the humor doesn’t work and the product placement is unpardonable. I guess you can say I continue to not fall under the spell of this franchise and the Sanderson Sisters…
4 out of 10
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