Director: Kenny Ortega
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
"Hocus Pocus" is directed by Kenny Ortega. It tells the story of the Sanderson sisters named Winifred, Mary, and Sarah, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. These witches were hung in 1693 by the townspeople of Salem for stealing children. 300 years later, a teen named Max, played by Omri Katz, moves to Salem with his family. He is very skeptical of the legend of the Sanderson sisters, so on Halloween night 1993, his crush and true believer Allison, played by Vinessa Shaw, takes Max and his little sister Dani, played by Thora Birch, to the Sanderson house where, if a virgin lights the black flame candle on Halloween, legend has it the sisters will return from the grave. Being the skeptic that he is, Max lights the candle, inadvertently bringing them back to life. In order to stay alive, the sisters must suck the life out of a child using a spell from their book. Now, Max, Allison, Dani, and a cursed cat named Thackery, voiced by Jason Marsden, must keep them from getting this book.
"Hocus Pocus" is a fun family adventure film. It is a bit silly in retrospect, but it does bring many laughs by using the ever-faithful fish out of water scenario by having witches from the 17th century become relocated to the 20th century. The kids really don't have a lot of great moments and don't add a ton laughs as the best lines in the film are reserved for the more veteran actresses. Bette Midler gets a chance to show off her vocal talents, performing "I Put a Spell On You" at a Halloween party because as everyone knows, singers who act always get the opportunity to sing in their movies. Even Sarah Jessica Parker gets a to belt out a little ditty, though in a far less rangy song which she uses to lure children to their doom. The makeup work is mostly always great, giving the three witches a fun, whimsical look mixed with some spooky witch features. Also, the makeup work on Billy Butcherson, a zombie brought back to life by Winifred to chase the children, is well done and performed convincingly by go-to monster man Doug Jones. As the film takes place on Halloween in the town of Salem, everything is dolled up real nice in the vast, autumnal colors of fall, covered in Halloween signatures like pumpkins, costumes, candles, and black cats.
If you can get past the cheese factor, "Hocus Pocus" is a perfect choice to get you into the spirit of the Halloween holiday. This movie might have a pretty harsh sounding premise, but it's really not that bad.
My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 30%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?