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Hocus Pocus 2: Halloween without the horror

Halloween can be an awkward time of year for parents. Kids of course want to be involved with the festivities any way they can, but most of the films released by Hollywood around that time are horror films that certainly aren’t for kids.

By David Griffiths

Saturday 29 October 2022, 11:00AM

Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy hits the aisles in ’Hocus Pocus 2’. Image: IMDb

Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy hits the aisles in ’Hocus Pocus 2’. Image: IMDb

Well one film may have that problem solved this year. Hocus Pocus 2 is a sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus, but don’t worry ‒ you and your family will understand it without having seen the first, and it is perhaps the best family friendly film out for this Halloween.

The film begins with a flashback that shows how the Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Bette Midler – Beaches), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker – Sex and the City) and Mary (Kathy Najimy – Sister Act), became the world’s most evil witches.

Then in modern times we find curious witchcraft enthusiasts Becca (Whitney Peak – Molly’s Game) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo – Blue Beetle) preparing for their first Halloween away from their estranged friend Cassie (Lilia Buckingham – Dirt) whom they feel is too busy for them with her new boyfriend.

Their Halloween plans are put on hold though when Winifred, Sarah and Mary are raised from the dead and arrive back in town hellbent on getting revenge on the man who ruined their lives by going after his descendant – the mayor (Tony Hale – Toy Story 4), who just happens to be Cassie’s Dad.

While this is certainly not a film for very young children, this is certainly a film that parents can watch with children from about 8 years old upwards. Director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) and screenwriter Jen D’Angelo (Young Rock) have done a good job creating a film that is basically going to be enjoyed by anybody who loves the Harry Potter franchise.

In fact, Fletcher and D’Angelo do a pretty good job to make sure a wide variety of people watching the film are going to enjoy it. There is enough of a nostalgia factor in there to make sure that fans of the original Hocus Pocus film will enjoy the sequel while the film is made ‘modern’ enough to see that pre-teens and teenagers are not going to roll their eyes with disgust as mum or dad tries to make them watch something ‘old-fashioned’.

The film deals with issues that all generations can relate to – problems in friendships, issues that arise when you are coming-of-age and of course the worldwide issues of being misunderstood and prejudices against those that may appear to different. Somehow the screenplay makes sure that all of those issues are dealt with without the film ever becoming preachy, which is a real credit to the skills of Jen D’Angelo.

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Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy seem to relish the opportunity to once again play roles that they seem to adore and it is obvious that they never felt anything in this film was ‘beneath’ them as they embrace all aspects of a film that sees them doing everything from supernatural inspired stunts through to hilarious musical numbers.

The young cast certainly don’t let them themselves become overshadowed by their A-list cast-mates either.  It is easy to see from her performance here that Whitney Peak is going to become a very big star over the next few years. She carries a lot of this film and happily performs alongside Midler and company, matching them with their wit, humour and drama. She is well supported by Escobedo, who is the perfect side-kick here.

What makes Hocus Pocus 2 such an enjoyable film to watch is the fact that you never really know where it is going to go next. The film mixes a great supernatural plot with various moments of humour and even some musical interludes thrown in. No matter what this film attempts to do, it pulls it off in such a way that is guaranteed to be a film that families will love for years to come.

Hocus Pocus 2 is currently screening on Disney+ in Phuket.

3/5 Stars

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus 

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