Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Ominous October - Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney +
Movie Name/Year: Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Length: 1h 43min
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures, David Kirschner Productions, Disney+
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Jen D’Angelo, David Kirschner, Blake Harris, Mick Garris
Actors: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, Froy Gutierrez, Sam Richardson, Doug Jones, Tony Hale, Taylor Henderson, Nina Kitchen, Juju Journey Brener
Blurb from IMDb: Two young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world.

Selina’s Point of View:
I loved the original Hocus Pocus (1993). It’s a staple of my childhood. Hell, I watched NCIS (2003 -) simply because of Sean Murray’s (The Double, JAG, Spring Break Lawyer) involvement, at first. As a result, I was all in for this sequel.
There has been some good done with nostalgia sequels. Earlier this year we got Top Gun: Maverick (2022) which is the sequel to Top Gun (1986) which came out almost my entire lifetime ago. I’m not shy about how I feel about Maverick. It was better than the first, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. It’s not the only decent nostalgia sequel, but it’s the best I can name off the top of my head.
I wasn’t expecting anything of that quality from Hocus Pocus 2. The original was meant to be a bit cheesy, after all. What I wanted was something that offered the same feel, with a new setting and story.
I got the new story. Which was not my favorite, but not the worst. That said, the setting felt almost completely the same while the overall feel was downgraded to something far below what the first flick offered. 

It’s as if the writer was trying to follow the recipe of Hocus Pocus so closely, that it didn’t matter what the content of the scenes were. For instance, we started with a flashback to 1653 that was completely unnecessary. I know that it was supposed to make the rest of the story hit harder. I think everything would have landed the same if the whole scene was removed.
As far as I’m concerned, that opening prologue was there just to pad the runtime.
Hocus Pocus 2 failed to capitalize on the nostalgia aspect. There were easter eggs and moment that reoccurred in almost the exact same way as they did in its predecessor, and yet none of it carried the same weight. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it doesn’t feel like a movie at all. It felt like a long intro to a TV series.
I was disappointed.
Even expecting some form of sequelitis, I was still let down. It’d be impressive if it wasn’t so sad.

Cat’s Point of View:
Hocus Pocus (1993) has long been one of my favorite go-to Halloween movies. I tend to watch it nearly every year since it was originally released. Oh, the joy of bouncing around and chanting “amok, amok, amok” in time with the screen. Just thinking about it tends to bring a silly smile to my face.
When I heard that Disney was planning a sequel and the original cast was returning, I began to fervently pray and hope that development hell did not claim the project. Sometimes wishing upon that proverbial Disney star does result in a dream come true – because, after all, here we are discussing Hocus Pocus 2.
Of course, I have to give Bette Midler (The Stepford Wives, The Politician, The Addams Family 2) much thanks, as it’s said that she practically pestered the studio on a regular basis after she realized how much the original film was adored by fans. I was overjoyed that Sarah Jessica Parker (All Roads Lead to Rome, Here and Now, And Just Like That...) and Kathy Najimy (Descendants, Veep, Single All the Way) were on board to also reprise their roles. It wouldn’t be the same without them. I had zero plans to watch any sort of reboot, remake, or sequel that didn’t somehow involve them or have their specific sign-off. I was also happy that Doug Jones (The Strain, The Shape of Water, Star Trek: Discovery) came back to reprise his role, as well.
Sequels are tricky enough as it is, and generally tank more frequently when all regard for the original is thrown out the window. Thankfully, Hocus Pocus 2 did not fall into that trap. In fact, there are many little Easter Egg moments sprinkled throughout that are direct homages to the original Hocus Pocus. A lot of care and thought was put into all the details within this picture.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that so much time has passed since the original story took place. I really enjoyed how this new chapter incorporated updated elements – from the transportation choices of the witch sisters to some of the locations utilized. (I don’t want to give away too, much!)

In addition to bringing the Hocus Pocus-verse into this new century, the production even set up an opportunity for torch-passing that I’m not even mad at. Whitney Peak (Molly's Game, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Home Before Dark) was a great choice for leading the young trio of girls faced with taking down the Sanderson Sisters.
Aside from all of that, I was happy to get a bit more background information about the Sandersons. As with most Disney family movies, there’s a wholesome message or lesson in the subtext of Hocus Pocus 2. Learning the characters’ motivations and how they found their witchy path really helped drive that home. I watched with my daughter, and she was quick to grab onto the concept – and let me tell you, I got a bit misty about it.
Sam Richardson (Superintelligence, Werewolves Within, Senior Year) was also a fun addition to the production. He played my favorite supporting character in The Tomorrow War (2021) and was responsible for probably my favorite scene in that movie. I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve seen him in – and I am looking forward to more projects of his in the future. The explanation of how he tied into the Hocus Pocus story was probably the weakest plot point within the whole story – but, frankly, I didn’t care. I just shrugged it off. I’m thinking most fans will, too.
The Mouse House had a bit of a stroke of genius by releasing Hocus Pocus 2 at the end of September. We have the whole month of October to enjoy it before this Halloween rolls around. I can tell you we’ll probably watch this again more than once before the spooky season is over.
If you had fun with the original Hocus Pocus, this sequel will likely also be a magical experience.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 54%
Metascore – 55%
Metacritic User Score - 4.4
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
P.S. There’s a during credit and after credit scene.
Movie Trailer:

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