Written by Jen D’Angelo (Workaholics) and Directed by Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, This Is Us), Hocus Pocus 2 sees the long awaited reunion of Bette Midler (First Wives’ Club, Beaches), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City, The Family Stone) and Kathy Najimy (Sister Act) as the iconic Witch coven The Sanderson Sisters. They are joined by original cast member Doug Jones (The Shape of Water, Hellboy) as the fresh from the grave Billy Butcherson.
This time around, they are joined by a trio of young faces, Whitney Peak (Gossip Girl) as Becca, Belissa Escobedo (American Horror Stories) as Izzy and Lilia Buckingham (Dirt) as Cassie. Also joining them are a pair of Veep alumni and comedy heavy hitters Tony Hale (Arrested Development) as Salem’s Mayor and Sam Richardson (Detroiters) as the new owner of the Magic Shop where the Sandersons once called their home.
In Hocus Pocus 2, we see the Sanderson Sisters return to Salem when the black candle is relit. They get to experience a little of what the 21st century has to offer while trying to find a way to gain their immortality before the sun rises and the magic of the black candle burns out. Standing in their way are a trio of teenage girls who have been practicing witchcraft in their own small way. The Sanderson Sisters are willing to take things a little further this time around, perhaps dabbling in some forbidden magic to ensure they stick around.
“Also something new that we get from Hocus Pocus 2 is a good deal more back story on the Sanderson Sisters…”
While a lot of the beats of this movie mirror those of the original, the simple pleasures of this film take you back to the joys of the 1993 film, nothing more so than the chemistry (or let’s say, alchemy?) of the three stars. Midler, Parker, and Najimy have barely missed a breath together and their on-screen presence is phenomenal. Listen closely for the little throwaway lines (mostly from Kathy Najimy) that get in one last laugh where one would assume there was no room for one.
Notable in Hocus Pocus 2 was the increased exposure to modern technology by the Sanderson Sisters. The original Hocus Pocus didn’t always make time for the fish out of water story that was possible with a trio of 17th Century witches, but this time they make good with at least one scene with more focus on that aspect.
Also something new that we get from Hocus Pocus 2 is a good deal more back story on the Sanderson Sisters, travelling back to their youth to see the beginnings of their witchy ways. It also gives them an enemy whose bloodline may carry over into the present day.
“Hocus Pocus 2’s biggest weak points all surround trying to live up to the original, a classic among children of today and children of the 80’s/90’s alike.”
The newcomers to the franchise all provide some charming performances. The three teens have a nice chemistry and do a great job carrying the story despite being surrounded by stars on all fronts. Tony Hale and Sam Richardson are fully aware of the movie they are in and act accordingly, providing their level best performances in these supporting roles.
Hocus Pocus 2’s biggest weak points all surround trying to live up to the original, a classic among children of today and children of the 80’s/90’s alike. At times, it falls into the trap of many reboots and reunions where they just try to recreate some moments from the original in the hopes that people won’t see through the effort, but that never seems to be as successful as the studios would hope for…
Not all recurring moments fall flat, though. Some callback jokes hit well, including the Sandersons’ alternative choices for brooms and the odd occasion where the movie gets meta and calls out some of the sillier moments from part one.
The means by which the main plot gets kicked off comes off a little silly, but that was expected given where we leave off in the first movie. For what it is worth, it’s as creative a solution as they could have come up with given the circumstances. Some moments were also predictable, but many managed to get a giggle out of me anyways, either because I was right or because they were funny enough to not matter.
Hocus Pocus 2 drops on Disney+ on Friday, September 30, just in time for the Halloween Season.