Hocus Pocus (1993)

hocus pocus IMDb

Hocus Pocus is good clean Disney fun– witches, talking cats, musical numbers. It’s the kind of Halloween movie that you can put on for kids and not have to worry that it’s too scary. You might get some questions about what a virgin is, but is that the worst thing ever? (Well, maybe for some parents.)

This is yet another film that I’m just seeing for the first time, having never watched it as a kid. So far I’ve not been disappointed in the kiddie fare I’ve been catching up on. Most of them are still fun to watch as an adult, and Hocus Pocus is no exception. I comedy is silly at times, but fun to watch. Bette Midler, Cathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are great as the Sanderson Sisters, three 17th Century witches who are inadvertently resurrected in 1990s Salem. All three are fun to watch, but Midler is clearly the star. Still, Parker and Najimy hold their own in scenes with the Divine Miss M, bringing loads of personality to their characters.

It is strange at times watching movies like these for the first time from an adult perspective. One of the plot points surrounding the resurrection of the Sanderson Sisters is that they will be brought back to life by a virgin. It’s not a huge deal, but referenced enough times in jokes and dialogue that you can’t miss it. This is the sort of thing that I don’t think would be included in a kids flick today for fear of parents having to awkwardly explain what a virgin is and why it’s funny that the teenage boy star is one (it’s actually not that funny). Otherwise the movie would probably be made even scarier and turned into a weird PG-13 monstrosity. Thank goodness this was made in good old 1993 when this sort of joke was considered perfectly harmless.

Rating: B

We had always planned to review Christmas movies in December, so have been purposely skipping Christmas movies like Elf and A Christmas Story to review in December. We decided recently to also do this with Halloween. There was just one problem, I have hardly any movies related to Halloween, I have never been a fan of horror movies so I own very few. Hocus Pocus is one of the few movies I have that fits the Halloween theme, along with a few slasher flicks like Scream, so we will be reviewing them leading into the season of trick or treat.

Hocus Pocus is good clean harmless Disney fun. Three witches (Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) burned alive during the Salem witch trials are brought back to life in the nineties to wreak havoc on Salem once again. It is up to a hapless youth, Max (Omri Katz), his potential mate (Vinessa Shaw) and his little sister (Thora Birch) to send the witches back where they came from. They are aided by a young boy (Sean Murray) who was turned into an immortal cat the last time the witches were alive. The witches have to suck the life from a child before sunrise or they will die, the three kids and their new cat advisor need to stop that from happening.

Like I said, this is good clean fun in the true Disney style. It is entertaining for children, but it also won’t bore the parents forced to watch it. Bette Midler is a lot of fun, and is clearly enjoying her role as the elder witch. Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker are also good as her sisters. My only real complaint is that somehow Sarah Jessica Parker got cast as the ‘sexy’ one. Whoever was in charge of that casting choice needs to have their eyes checked, although to be fair, she is sexier than Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy.

It is really interesting seeing a young actress like Thora Birch. A few years later she would make headlines by appearing topless in American Beauty. Seeing her here is really strange. You can see though that she lights up a screen, even at this early age. After checking her Wikipedia page, I also learnt some fun facts about her: Thora’s parents were porn stars and she is named after the Norse god Thor. That must have been some fun childhood for Thora Birch.

Hocus Pocus is a fun film, although it does feel like something that should be nothing more than a Disney Channel Original Film now. Despite this, it is still a fun enough movie, with enough laughs and a strong performance from Bette Midler to keep the whole family entertained.

Rating: C+

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