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September 30, 2022 / DIsney+

Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy

Directed By: Anne Fletcher

A Disney+ Original movie debuting September 30, 2022, exclusively on Disney+, the live-action comedy “Hocus Pocus 2” is a haunting sequel to the Halloween classic which brings back the delightfully wicked Sanderson sisters for more comedic mayhem.

Written By Darren

Rating 4 out of 5

Hocus Pocus 2 features the marvelous return of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters in the long awaited sequel to the Disney classic that is guaranteed to become another Halloween favourite for fans of the original.

The original Hocus Pocus is one of those films that was always on television during the month of October while I was growing up, which naturally led to me watching it at least two or three times a year. It was one of those incredibly fun films that still to this day cracks me up with its ingenious sense of humour and the great performances of Midler, Parker and Najimy. While I would never say no to more time with these three actresses as the Sanderson Sisters, a sequel to Hocus Pocus worried me upon its initial announcement, because of the revered status of the original. But, the long twenty-nine year wait for the sequel pays off as Hocus Pocus 2 is an excellent sequel that not only captures the magic of the original film, but updates it for today’s audience.

The plot follows three young women who accidentally light the black flame candle on Halloween in Salem, which brings the Sanderson Sisters back to life. With the Sanderson Sisters back in Salem seeking out young children to feed on to sustain themselves and their beauty, the young women must figure out a way to stop the Sanderson Sisters without becoming their next victims. The structure and narrative of the film is similar to that of the original, delivering a film that feels vaguely familiar to fans, but it’s done with such care and a heartwarming moral that is sure to have fans grinning from ear to ear the entire film. A majority of the jokes of the film are callbacks to that of the originals, but once again the out of time nature of the Sanderson Sisters’ resurrection leads to new and hilarious moments throughout the film that play with society’s advancements since the original film. There are hilarious moments as they fly over Salem and use household objects instead of brooms, jokes around potions being pre-bottled, and so many more that are great for audiences of all ages.

The young women who summon the Sanderson Sisters, portrayed by Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo and Lilia Buckingham, are all great and enjoyable additions to the franchise. It gives a good story of sisterhood that is the perfect reflection to that of the Sanderson Sisters, which only deepens the more emotional elements of the film’s story. Joining in the fun for the sequel is Sam Richardson, Hannah Waddingham and Tony Hale, who are all gifted comedians and perfectly match the tone of the film. Waddingham is glorious and fully captures Midler’s energy for her role, though I wish there was more of her in the film, whereas Richardson and Hale never fail to deliver a great laugh.

Though, much like the original film, it is Midler, Parker, and Najimy who steal the show. Even though it has been twenty-nine years since the original, the three of them never miss a beat and bring back their infectious, wacky energy to their roles. They are over the top in the most marvelous (but with the enthusiastic emphasis of Winnifred Sanderson) way imaginable, making it look like they have stayed in these roles every day since the original film. Following up on their show stopping performance of “I Put A Spell On You” in the first film, the Sanderson Sisters deliver two outstanding musical numbers that are certain to have audiences tapping their toes as the Sanderson Sisters let loose. It’s not nearly as iconic as the original film’s musical number, but their reworking of a classic Elton John song is genius and everything that this film needed. Though, unlike the first film, the story provides a more emotional arc for Winnifred which gives Midler the writing to dig deep and tap into a more vulnerable side of Winnifred that audiences have not seen before. It just adds to Midler’s incredible performance for the entire film, reminding audiences why her character and her sisters quickly became witches that audiences wanted to see terrorize young children on a yearly basis.

From a production standpoint, the film looks great. The costumes and makeup to transform Midler, Parker and Najimy into the Sanderson Sisters and Doug Jones into Billy Butcherson is phenomenal, and the CGI used to create their magic looks excellent. It looks like a film that was made on a theatrical budget, unlike the questionable CGI we tend to see in made for streaming projects. While I understand why the film was selected for release on Disney+, as families with young children will be watching it multiple times leading up to Halloween, it would have been so much fun to watch the Sanderson Sisters’ glorious return on the big screen as this is a big screen adventure through and through.

While the sequel will never eclipse the first film, which still remains one of my all time favorite films to watch at Halloween, Hocus Pocus 2 delivers everything that fans of the original want and is guaranteed to introduce new, younger audiences to these wonderful characters. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are outstanding from start to finish, combined with a great new cast members and a story that continues the fun of the original through a new lens, Hocus Pocus 2 is the film fans have been waiting for that is the perfect film for the entire family to enjoy this Halloween season.

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