I wasn’t a big fan of the first Hocus Pocus. I’ve only seen it twice. Once, when it was on TV back in the 1990s and the other time was last year on Disney-Plus. I never got into the whole movie. Maybe it was because I was 15 when it came out and it only really appealed to the Millennials who liked it along with the Halloweentown movies. I can see a lot of young kids who were in elementary school enjoying the goofiness of the first movie and then rediscovering it as they were adults the way Gen Xers have with 1980s movies.
In 1993, there was one-two punch of Hocus Pocus and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas to entertain young people. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see myself as the intended audience I never really cared much for either movie. I understood what the first Hocus Pocus was going for as it was a silly comedy about believing in the power of magic and Halloween.
Now, many years laters, a second has been produced with the Sanderson Sisters returning when another Black Flame Candle is lit. This time we follow a young teenage girl and aspiring witch, Becca (Whitney Peak) and her friend, Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) who conjure up the Sisters, Winnie (Bette Middler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy), who are surprised to see that they are considered more famous now. This is a type of metafiction about the popularity of the movie.
With changing times in 2022, the Sanderson Sisters notice times have changed since 1993 as they are fascinated by the automatic doors at Walgreens that open for them as part of their powers. They’re even being intriqued by an Alexa, which in itself resembles a black candle to some people who lived in the 1600s. And another item that was already shown on the movie poster has Mary using Roombas to fly around on. If anything else, this all shows you how much has changed in less than 30 years. Also the Roombas are used in another way that was just a nice surprise.
The Sanderson Sisters notice a flyer featuring Mayor Jefry Traske (Tony Hale) who is a descent of Reverend Traske (also played by Hale) from their path who banished them. Traske is actually at a Halloween festival in town waiting in line to received a caramel apple from a local resident who gives out plenty. At the same time, his daughter, Cassie (Lillia Buckingham) is an estranged friend of Becca and Izzy and in danger of the Sisters because they need blood to cast their spell.
The movie does have the same light fun tone the first movie had. And some of the humor is at the expense of Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) again raised from the dead. Hale does his own goofy persona he’s perfected very well by now. This is a Disney live-action movie and it knows it. That’s both its strong point and its weakness. You know going in what to expect but you wish they had done more than just kinda elbow you in the side with a “Hey, you see what we did here?” attitude.
I will say I agree somewhat with the fans that the child actors from the first movie are missing here. It’s been reported by Thora Birch was going to return this time playing a schoolteacher. Omri Katz, who played the older brother of Birch’s character no longer acts. And Vinessa Shaw, who was also in the first one, continutes to act. But the focus of both movies have always been the Sanderson Sisters.
This is really a movie made for the fans rather than the general public, even though I’m sure it will get a new fan base as Millennials and Gen Xers will watch it with their children, or grandchildren. It’s good clean family entertainment and having to pick between this and The Munsters on Netflix, I would still pick this.
What do you think? Please comment.