Hocus Pocus 2 (2022) poster

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director – Anne Fletcher, Screenplay – Jen D’Angelo, Story – Jen D’Angelo, Blake Harris & David Kirschner, Producer – Lynn Harris, Photography – Elliot Davis, Music – John Debmey, Visual Effects Supervisor – Allan Magled, Visual Effects – The Artery VFX (Supervisors – Yuval Levy & Elad Offer), Atomic Arts (Supervisors – Eswar Kolla-Babu & Brooke Lyndon-Stanford), Black Ginger (Supervisor – Marc Bloch), Crafty Apes (Supervisor – Laura Hill), Imaginary Forces, Lola | VFX (Supervisor – Jason Schaefer), Maere Studios (Supervisors – Nicholas Ashe Bateman & Federico LaTona) & MPC (Supervisor – Malte Sarnes), Special Effects Supervisors – Judson Bell & Mark Hawker, Prosthetics – Kevin Haney, Billy Butcherson Makeup Effects – Tony Gardner, Production Design – Nelson Coates. Production Company – Disney/Weimaraner Republic Pictures.


Bette Midler (Winifred Sanderson), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson), Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Whitney Peak (Becca), Belissa Escobedo (Izzy), Sam Richardson (Gilbert the Great), Tony Hale (Mayor Jefry Trask/Reverend Traske), Lila Buckingham (Cassie Traske), Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson), Troy Gutierrez (Mike), Taylor Henderson (Young Winifred), Nina Kitchen (Young Mary), Juju Brenner (Young Sarah), Hannah Waddingham (The Witch Mother)


It is Halloween in present-day Salem. Teenagers Becca and Izzy, who form a coven of aspiring witches, are given a black candle by the magic store owner Gilbert. Burning it in the woods, they are startled when it summons the Sanderson sisters. Upon learning that Mayor Jefry Traske is the descendant of the reverend who condemned them to burn at the stake, the sisters set about determined to get some of his blood in order to enact the most powerful magic spell. Realising what they have unleashed, Becca and Izzy try to stop the sisters before dawn.

Hocus Pocus (1993) was a Disney release. Rather than the evil Witches Disney were known for in animation, this played everything in a light comedy vein with Bette Midler in particular going completely over-the-top with her performance. Hocus Pocus never received many good reviews back in the day and I don’t recall reading anywhere where it was praised as a lost classic. Indeed, on its initial release, it was regarded as a box-office flop for Disney.

Nevertheless, by the time of this sequel 29 years later, it seems to be being greeted as a classic with people welcoming its return far more than I ever assumed was the case. My feeling is that in most of these cases, it is people reacting to a work they saw as children or in reruns. And so as part of their ongoing effort to sell everything including the family silver to turn a profit, a sequel is what Disney makes here.

The sequel is premised solely around bringing back the three sisters and the actresses who played originally them – there is really not much more to it than a repeat of the original. Despite it only being one day in their timeline since they were resurrected, the sisters are starting to look a bit old in the tooth – Bette Midler is the oldest at 76 with Kathy Najimy aged 65 and Sarah Jessica the youngster among the trio at a mere 57. There is at least one amusing scene where the three are loosed inside a Walgreens and take the youth beauty products section for being the distilled essence of children. And there is a cute prologue where we meet the sisters as children with Taylor Henderson acing it as a young Bette Midler.

The Sanderson Sisters - Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy in Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
The Sanderson Sisters – (l to r) – Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy i- venture into a Walgreens pharmacy

With the exception of Doug Jones as the friendly zombie Billy Butcherson, none of the other original cast members make a return. They have been replaced with a new lineup of characters with an emphasis on Girl Power and diversity. Despite having three sisters who in the first film were setting out to devour the life essence of children, the sequel tries to reinvent Witchcraft as no more than an alternate religious practice with one scene where the film stands still so the girls can lecture the jock on not making fun of them for being different.

If one was a fan of the original Hocus Pocus, they are likely to enjoy the sequel. At the front of the story is the three madly overacting sisters. My memories of the original may be a bit hazy after thirty years but the three actresses did seem a little more restrained this time out. Indeed, this is probably the better made film overall. On the other hand, I am just not a fan of this cartoony rafter-rattlingly over-the-top style of mad acting.

The sequel is directed by Anne Fletcher who started off in the industry as a dancer, appearing in everything from Tank Girl (1995) to Titanic (1997), before making her directorial debut with the successful Step Up (2006). This was followed by romcoms such as 27 Dresses (2008), The Proposal (2009) and The Guilt Trip (2012) and other comedies with Hot Pursuit (2015) and Dumplin’ (2018).

Trailer here

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