I smell… a sequel that should never have made it past the gates of Walt Disney Studios.
Yes Yes, Hocus Pocus 2 is here, and the Sanderson sisters are back to take revenge on Salem. But while the witches manage to cast a spell on us, their bewitching abilities have taken a serious hit courtesy of a plot that doesn’t even try to find its footing.
Caught up in a story that waters down what made the original film a Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus 2 takes place in present-day Salem, nearly three decades after we last visited the stereotypical town of witches. Once again we have a group of teenagers, this time three teenagers, Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), and the need for a virgin to light the Black Flame Candle still lingers. thankfully, though, the sequel has ditched the original’s obsession with virginity and refrains from making it into a joke.
We also meet the Sanderson sisters as children before they became the famous witches. But this sneak peek at her story does little to help the overall plot of the film; aside from laying the groundwork for another sequel, it only serves to take the glory away from the witches. But more on that later. Acting wonders Hannah Waddingham and Tony Hale are thrown into the mix and while they shine whenever they grace the screen, their presence does little to enhance the unimaginative plot.
So back to the teen girl trio, or rather, Becca and Izzy, since we’re still trying to figure out what remotely sensible reason Disney had for including the third teen, Cassie, and her goofy boyfriend. Those well versed in the (admittedly slim) Hocus Pocus Lore already knows how things play out, as far as the plot device: Becca and Izzy end up accidentally lighting the Black Flame candle, thereby resurrecting Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary. (Kathy Najimy) back from the dead. .
After celebrating their rebirth, the witches get down to business, which involves invading Salem with their thirst for revenge. However, the Sandersons face unforeseen obstacles, namely technology (a fairly obedient flying Roomba notwithstanding) and the idiosyncrasies of today’s teenagers, and these cannot be resolved by sticking to their old ways.
These problems aren’t solved by recreating bits of the original either, but apparently, who cares! The writers certainly didn’t.
Although we agree that Hocus Pocus 2 deserves a fair shot, and shouldn’t be asked to live up to the first film’s merits, this sequel isn’t just a continuation of the original story, it relies so heavily on invoking its nostalgia that comparison becomes inevitable.
Whether it’s Winifred and her sisters casting a spell on a crowd, the unnecessary presence of a black cat, or dialogue toned down by blandness or fueled by a forced repackaging of parts of the original, Hocus Pocus 2 falls flat on its face when it comes to originality. But even setting aside attempts to rekindle the magic of the first movie by reusing its bag of tricks, the sequel’s storytelling is sorely lacking.
In 1993, the sisters turned the children’s would-be saviors, including Dani and Max’s parents, into puppets doomed to dance to death. This left the children without any source of rescue and portrayed the witches as the delightfully deranged villains that they are. The scene repeats here, and while we’re ready to stop wondering how the hell Winifred knows a Blondie song, what we can’t swallow is how anticlimactic the scene is. Sure, there are a lot more people haunted this time around, and as they search for the witches’ target, they stage a kind of zombified flash mob through the streets of Salem. But the moment the townspeople touch their mark, they are back to normal.
even the toy story Films have higher stakes.
The main grievance that the public had with the first Hocus Pocus it was that the various plotlines took us away from the beguiling presence of the Sanderson sisters. HP2The filmmakers seem to have forgotten why viewers, even those not in the film’s target demographic, have been eager for this sequel in the first place; spend more time with the witches themselves. The rest of the film doesn’t even manage to secure the second position; without a doubt, Winifred, Sarah and Mary Sanderson’s mad laughter is the mesmerizing magic spell that both films should have focused on.
Hocus Pocus 2 it works best when its three protagonists occupy the screen. Midler, Parker and Najimy enjoy delightfully wacky countryside, musical performances, and overall eccentric vibes that manage to shine through even in the midst of a plot that fails to engage. Doug Jones reprising his role as good zombie Billy Butcherson is another significant addition to the film. But between Becca’s teenage struggles, the drama of their friendship, and the disappointingly unimaginative development of their razor-thin story that feels forced at first, there’s not much the sisters, or our beloved zombie, can do to save the day. .
What bogs down the plot even more is the disappointing reboot of the Sandersons’ nice badass; now they are simply portrayed as misunderstood softies who just needed an act of kindness to set them on the right path. Where did those witches go who unapologetically reveled in power-hungry villainy? This is an evasion by order of Voldemort giving up the Horcruxes from him just because Harry Potter gave him a hug, or the Dark Lord Sauron destroying the rings of power because Gandalf scratched his nose.
then again, Hocus Pocus 2 it is primarily aimed at two relatively loose audiences; those under 12, who don’t give a damn about how out of place the cheesy angle feels, or chafe at the ever-present and irritating layer of nostalgia, and those who made the original a cult classic despite the many It has, in many ways, aged poorly. So while we’re probably daydreaming about ripping a literal page out of the Book of Winifred and casting a spell on Disney to prevent them from resurrecting the Sanderson sisters to no avail, a future in which the studio weaves in another listless sequel seems inevitable.
Hocus Pocus 2 is streaming on Disney Plus.