Bringing back any beloved franchise almost three decades later is a gamble, but it was one that fans of Hocus Pocus have wanted for years. The love of the Sanderson sisters has only grown over the past 29 years, so when the sequel was announced – the excitement could be cut with a knife.
Unfortunately, one thing fans didn’t consider was this sequel wasn’t being released in theaters – instead it’s just being released on Disney+. That inherently isn’t a bad thing, the streaming platform has had a lot of successful series and movies released on it. But with such a big fandom, the release to the streaming-only platform should have been a red flag. It basically equates to the Disney Channel-ification of the characters and the franchise.
The movie starts with the Sanderson sisters as children and shows how they become witches and even how they acquire Book. The characters are already leaning to the side of cartoonish, but the child versions definitely are. They are cast into the woods and it shows their origin story and at the heart of it their love for one another.
Fast forward to modern times and we meet Izzy and Becca, two friends who have always been fascinated with witchcraft. Celebrating Becca’s birthday, they are given a black flame candle and accidentally summon the Sanderson sisters back to Salem. Mix in a little revenge plot from the witches, and the teen girls are working to save their town and find their own power within.
From the original cast, the only main actors to reprise their roles are the three witches (Midler, Najimy, and Parker) and Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson. The Sanderson sisters (as we know them) don’t actually make an appearance in the film until after a half hour into the movie, and their crazy overacting seems almost out of place in current times. It played well for the early 90s but now in stores and running around Salem, they seem to be overacting and seen that way by everyone around them. Yes, it’s Halloween and that was a theme in the original too – their antics now seem to be like they escaped from an improv troupe.
Of the original cast, the saving grace in their performance is Jones as Butcherson. His role was pivotal but smaller in the original movie, and this time becomes almost like the buddy in an adventure film. But the update in makeup, special effects, and his continued performances as creatures and ghouls over the years – Jones makes Butcherson, not just a character you like but one that almost steals the show.
Hocus Pocus 2 will be a great movie for families to enjoy together. There is no doubt that younger viewers or people who are first introduced to the characters will love the movie. But fans of the original are going to feel left out and slighted by the sequel. While there are nods towards the original and the reasons they loved it, they’re only done on the very surface and quickly as almost a cheap attempt to connect to the audience. It’s very obvious this sequel was written solely for a new generation and one who will drive the marketing dollars, while their parents begrudgingly get them what they want mourning the sequel they all hoped was coming.
A Disney+ Original movie, “Hocus Pocus 2” will premiere on September 30, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.
About Hocus Pocus 2
It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve. “Hocus Pocus 2” also stars Sam Richardson (“The Tomorrow War”), Doug Jones (“The Shape of Water”), Whitney Peak (“Gossip Girl”), Belissa Escobedo (“American Horror Stories”), Lilia Buckingham (“Dirt”), Froy Gutierrez (“Teen Wolf”), with Tony Hale (“Veep”) and Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”). The film is directed by Anne Fletcher (“Dumplin,’” “The Proposal”) from a screenplay by Jen D’Angelo (“Workaholics”) and a story by David Kirschner (“Hocus Pocus,” “Chucky”) & Blake Harris and Jen D’Angelo, produced by Lynn Harris (“King Richard,” “The Shallows”), with Ralph Winter (“Hocus Pocus,” “X-Men” franchise), David Kirschner and Adam Shankman (“Disenchanted,” “Hairspray”) serving as executive producers.