Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The next film to be given the nostalgia treatment is Hocus Pocus 2. It is interesting to note that the original 1993 film directed by Kenny Ortega was not a box office hit. In fact, it actually lost Disney about $16.5 million during its theatrical run and was not very popular among critics. But through years of running it on different channels, it has become a Halloween cult classic.
Fast forward now to 2022 and we have the sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, that is being released exclusively on Disney+ and directed by Anne Fletcher. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are back as Winnie, Mary, and Sarah aka the Sanderson sisters. A couple of teenagers have accidentally unleashed the witches once again on the world. They are Becca played by Whitney Peak, and Izzy played by Belissa Escobedo. They are later joined by Cassie played by Lilia Buckingham, who has been off fitting in with a new more popular group of friends.
The plot of the film follows the Sanderson sisters attempting to cast an immortality spell. It will be up to these three teenagers to stop them before it’s too late. In the meantime, they must also rekindle their relationship with Cassie. As well as protect Cassie’s father from the Sandersons who want to kidnap him for their spell.
What works in Hocus Pocus 2 is that it basically follows the same goofy, comedic approach of the original film. It’s an easy film to watch with the whole family. It contains several Easter eggs from the first that will delight fans. The biggest reason why it works is that the three sister witches are back. I can argue that you could have inserted any group of teenage actresses in the film and it would have been the same because it’s the Sandersons that are important.
This also brings me to a problem in Hocus Pocus 2. The Sanderson sisters are so popular that it’s hard to see them as proper villains in the film. Their added young origin story doesn’t help this cause either, as audiences are given a reason to be empathetic as to why they are the way they are. It’s not enough for Disney for them to just be bad guys, they have to seemingly have redeeming qualities. In turn, this also makes them feel less dangerous and more whacky.
But my guess is that many people are going to be caught up in the nostalgia of the film to really notice many flaws. At the end of the day, if you are being entertained, who cares right? If this film is successful it will on Disney to continue to dig deep into the well of nostalgia to please their audience.
Overall, I had fun with Hocus Pocus 2. I thought that for a Disney+ feature film it wasn’t terrible. It follows the mold of the way Disney is currently doing films, which most people seem to like.
Overall Grade: B-
Disney+‘s Hocus Pocus 2 is now available to stream on their streaming service.