They are back!
After almost thirty years, we get a follow-up to the hit 90’s classic with Hocus Pocus 2, reuniting us with the Sanderson Sisters – Winifred, Sarah and Mary – played by the ever talented trio Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy respectively.
How are they back? Well, three young witchcraft enthusiasts of Salem – Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) – accidently bring back the crazy three and boom, just like that, Salem’s children gotta run!
Anne Fletcher’s squeal to Kenny Ortega’s original is made to be relevant to audiences of today while showing respect to the original and capturing its nostalgia.
A more refined film for the times
I think successful original productions are like fine wine, they get better with age. Sequel’s always pose a problem, as they have a benchmark they got to strive for, especially if the original develops a cult following. While I am not a fan of all of Disney’s recent creative decisions, I found Hocus Pocus 2 to be a fun watch that kept its pace and humour. I personally feel newer film technology has amplified all aspects of the original story, from costumes to witchcraft in action. The 30-year gap has naturally played its part in elevating the experience, so while it has been a while for many who always wanted a sequel, I think time has played to its favour.
The one aspect of Hocus Pocus 2 that I love is that you can watch it without really having seen the original. It stands on its own with its own engaging but simple story. If anything, the trip down to the sister’s childhood actually gives their characters more depth than the original which I found to be a treat.
Like every Disney product you’ll watch for the foreseeable future, it has been tweaked to include the important elements of society today: diversity, representation, cultural references, and more. Now before the next reader sees this and says “look look, they are being woke”, I want to make something clear: it is important that films become more diverse and inclusive because that is the audience of films today. In fact, that is a reflection on what society looks like today. I think from all the Disney films I’ve seen in the past little while, Hocus Pocus 2 has done a great job of being representative without compromising the essence of what the story is. It feels more natural (with the exception of some very obvious scenes). You’ll actually enjoy this film as it touches upon many of the modern Halloween traditions, while still bringing out the craziness of the world of witchcraft.
Has the film captured the magic of the original? No. I think it has created its own fresh magic and flare for a new set of audiences, while still gifting us with the ridiculously beautiful characters of this films legacy, capturing the nostalgia without any of the shortcomings.
A dazzling cast
I don’t need to say much about Midler, Parker and Najimy. They are talented actresses that bring their A-game to this production. Watching the movie, you can hardly tell its been almost 30 years since the original. They bring back the sisters like they did the original yesterday, and give memorizing performances that will keep you glued to your screen. I think its a treat when OG actors can return to their iconic roles and still carry them forward for a new set of audiences.
With that said, Fletcher and her team have respected the core story of Hocus Pocus and casted youngsters who try to thwart the evil plans of the Sanderson’s. Peak, Escobedo and Buckingham play these witchcraft enthusiasts who, above all is, play the meddling kids the sisters just hate. I think all three young stars provide engaging performances that complement the OG trio, something that lends to the conclusion of the film quite well (you’ll have to see it to find out).
Sam Richardson is a wonderful addition to the cast, providing almost a bridge between the sisters and the youngsters. His witty performance lends to atmosphere of the film, and definitely is a welcomed casting. Many of you will see the return of Billy Butcherson in this film, but not recognize who’s playing him. Doug Jones! Yes, the master of the full-body prosthetic makeup will bring to life Billy Butcherson brilliantly! It was also nice to see a role portrayed by Tony Hale. Having loved his role in the The Mysterious Benedict Society, he added a bit of awkward humour to this film.
An opportunity for future films
If Disney is a master of anything, it is the setup of future films.
I think at this time I’d like to talk about Taylor Henderson, Nina Kitchen and Juju Journey Brener. These talented young artists portrayed Young Winifred, Young Mary and Young Sarah respectively, and I think their performances were absolute highlights of this production. I personally felt they successfully channeled the performance aura delivered by Midler, Najimy and Parker, impeccably bringing to us younger versions of the sisters. Personally, I think there is potential for a Disney+ spin-off series that explores the sisters when they were young?
Also, with the trio of Becca, Izzy and Cassie, you have an opportunity to create a new storyline for Hocus Pocus. You’ll understand after watching this movie what I mean by all this. I would pay careful attention to Hannah Waddingham’s role in this film.
All in all, Hocus Pocus 2 is a fun, nostalgic popcorn movie for this Halloween season. You will be gifted with great performances, wonderful laughs and a little spooky magic that will keep you on your toes. Plus, you’ll get a few opportunities to sing-a-long too!
Hocus Pocus 2 streams exclusively on Disney+ starting September 30, 2022.
Are you a fan of Hocus Pocus? Let us know your thoughts of this sequel in the comments below.
Cover: Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.