Film Review: Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+
3.5 out of 5 stars
The sequel to Hocus Pocus has been anticipated for years and is now kicking off this Halloween season, September 30th on Disney+.
Hocus Pocus 2 is a Disney+ only special. Directed by Anne Fletcher with executive producers Adam Shankman, David Kirschner, and Ralph Winter. Production designer, Nelson Coates and set decorator, Andrew Baseman. The cast included the return of the incredible 1993 actors Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson), Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson), and introduced a new cast with Whitney Peak (Becca), Belissa Escobedo (Izzy), Lilia Buckingham (Cassie Traske), Sam Richardson (Gilbert), Tony Hale (Jefry Traske), and Froy Gutierrez (Mike).
Thirty years after the first release of Hocus Pocus in 1993, the 2022 adaptation re-introduces the Sanderson sisters to the modern world of 2022 Salem.
Becca is a high school student who, with the accidental help of her best friend Izzy, relights the black flame candle that brings back the legendary Sanderson sisters. Throughout that Halloween night Becca, Izzy, and Cassie attempt to stop the sisters from taking revenge on Salem.
The story opens with the young Sanderson sisters in Salem. They struggle with the town’s residents and their close minded thinking. The sisters eventually run away seeking to escape their neighbors, who attempt to separate them. While on the run they meet a witch who peaks their interest in witchcraft. Later on you can understand that the events of 1993 have already taken place when they cut to present-day Salem. Becca and Izzy head to school Halloween morning to talk about Becca’s birthday tradition. While at school you can see the struggling friendship between Becca, Izzy, and Cassie.
Since 1993, the Sanderson sisters have become town legends, with the all knowing Gilbert running the now Sanderson tour house. Later that night, with a gift from Gilbert, Becca and Izzy have accidentally brought back the Sanderson sisters. As the siblings try to get back into old habits, Becca and Izzy show them around “new Salem”, they show the sisters modern day life, but eventually they don’t want to shift into new habits and head back to their lifestyle. Even with the conflicts between Becca and Cassie they try to gain her help to send the Sanderson sisters away.
A lot of people have asked me what my opinion is on Hocus Pocus 2, the only sentence I have been able to fabricate is, “It’s actually pretty great.” Obviously sequels can’t beat the originals, but Hocus Pocus 2 is a good enough sequel to correlate with the original.
While watching it I was enjoying and appreciating the effort put in by the new and returning cast members, as well as the set designers who really made the movie visually appealing to me. It doesn’t feel like they just put something together. I got the sense that they had been planning this film for months, maybe even years.
I was a little disappointed with the absence of a certain talking cat from the original film, Thackeray Binx, but I did enjoy seeing one particular previous cast member, Doug Jones, who reprised his role as “Billy” Butcherson.
A particular scene where Sanderson sisters began to sing, felt a little strange; it didn’t quite sit well with me. They did sing in the original, but I felt that they were so dedicated to focusing on the story and characters in the sequel that the singing just felt out of place within the storyline. Even though some of the characters were a little cliche the movie felt more mature due to their acting and the character’s personalities. I do believe that the true Disney and Hocus Pocus fans will love and admire the sequel this Halloween season.
This sequel’s goal was to send a message to appreciate the people you have and the power that comes with having a good group of people around you. I wasn’t entirely sure of the movie’s theme other than focusing on the Sanderson sisters’ return. The most I could interpret was the importance of having people that you connect with even through hardship.
Hocus Pocus 2 was an overall joy and an exciting experience to watch for the first time. This movie really made me want to buy a Roomba for the fun of it (you’ll understand if this convinces you to watch it).
What an amazing start to almost everyone’s favorite month, October!