Hocus Pocus Synopsis: After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to their reign of terror once and for all.
Release Date: 07/16/1993 | Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min. | Coolthulhus Earned: 4 out of 5
Hocus Pocus is one of my favorite movies. Halloween just gives me a excuse to watch it more than normal. It’s a perfect family watch for the season with just the right mix of scariness, humour and action. I will say one thing, though, its PG rating is well-earned. Near the beginning there are some scenes that could be a little intense for younger viewers. If you want to take a peek under the spoiler tag I’ll lay them out for you so there are no unpleasant surprises.
There is also some very light swearing, I believe the only two that are used are ‘damn’ and ‘hell’.
For being evil witches they are also hilarious. I’m not that big of a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker but in this movie she’s hilarious as the scatter-brained Sarah Sanderson. Some of the funniest scenes are just her being a goofball in the background while the main action is taking place. Kathy Najimy is awesome as the ‘nice’ sister, Mary Sanderson. Bette Midler is in fine ‘ Ye Olde Broad’ form as the eldest sister, Winifred Sanderson. Even though the main focus of the movie is on the kids the Sanderson Sisters are given equal screen time and are the real ‘stars’. Which maybe is a little unfair since the actresses have a lot more comedic acting under their belts. It’s also a little unusual since the villains, particularly in movies made for kids, usually have less screen time to keep them more mysterious and scary. Here you see the Sanderson Sisters in all of their bumblingly evil glory. While you don’t exactly root for them (y’know, because of the whole kid soul-sucking thing) they’re a hell of a good time to watch.
The three kids Max (Omri Katz, Eerie Indiana), Alison (Vinessa Shaw) and Dani (Thora Birch, The Hole) are pretty capable with their parts. Even though Max is nominally the focus of the three, Alison and Dani have more than enough charisma to keep from getting over-shadowed. Of the three Max is probably the more stereotypical ‘teenager’ than the other two. He hates the new town they’ve moved to (didn’t see that coming) and argues a bit with his younger sister. They could have easily made Alison be the ‘mean rich girl’ but instead they decided to make her intelligent, confident and not overly sex-kitten looking. Which is a nice change of pace. Dani is perhaps the hardest to like, particularly at the start of the movie. She’s bratty and bossy but that slowly fades after the first ten minutes or so. She’s still bossy but not a total bratsicle. They balance her traits pretty nicely because if she had remained a brat the whole way through then I would have willingly thrown her to the witches.
Thackery Binx (Sean Murray, NCIS) does a great job in both his (short) human roles and doing the voice-over work for the cursed feline the witches turn him into. For the longest time I always thought his name was Zachary and I was mis-hearing him. Then I discovered subtitles but still thought his name was Zachary and the subtitles were getting it wrong (they’re not perfect). Then I found IMDB where I learned that his name, indeed, is Thackery. I just have one queston…why?? It’s not a name! Maybe because it sounds old-fashioned but it’s not even a name! Try it, right now. Start typing in Thackery and you’ll either bring up Thackery Binx or the author.
They keep the action moving along nicely and of course we get a wonderful Bette Midler song. It amused me that while checking some things on the movie I found out that apparently I’m not the only one who had a mini-crush on the Skeleton Guy singing at the party the parents go to. This is not to downplay Sarah Jessica Parker though, who sings the song that hypnotizes children. Creatively titled Sarah’s Theme. I personally think that Sarah’s Lullaby would have been a better title but that’s just me. She does her own singing and does a great job of making the song soothing and creepy at the same time.
There are a few things that take it down just a wee bit in that I can’t give it five stars but they are minor so think of it as more like a 4.5 score. It’s mostly Dani. She’s a freaking brat. From throwing a screech fit to get Max to take her trick or treating and just about getting him beat up by the neighborhood bullies, in the first ten to fifteen minutes she’s annoying. Luckily that fades and for the rest of the movie she can be pretty dang funny.
It’s a great movie to watch whether you’re ten or…as old as I am.