Pros:wicked bits of humor, fun family adventure, Halloween classic
Cons:too much fun? too seasonal?
The Bottom Line: Great family viewing any time of the year! A real ghoul's night out
Several centuries ago in the quiet town of Salem, the Sanderson sisters become lethally infamous for their evil ways and are hung by the town as witches. While the town still delights in tales of the sinister Sanderson sisters, no one really believes they were really evil witches. Especially the new kid in town, Max Dennison.
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When the lovely Allison offers to show Max and his little sister the old Sanderson museum/gift shop on Halloween night, he jumps at the chance to spend time with her, and hopefully make a good impression. When he lights the black flame candle that legend says will call the sisters back from beyond the veil of death, Max makes a huge impression on the whole town! With help only from Allison and Thackery Binx, a boy cursed into the form of an immortal black cat, can Max redeem his foolish mistake, save his sister and all of Salem from the clutches of the devious and vengeful Sandersons? It's a magical race against the dawn this All Hallows Eve!
This predominantly live action Disney film is great family fun anytime, but especially for Halloween. While it did not make a big splash during it's release in 1993, Hocus Pocus has gained a bit of a cult following as well as popularity over the years since, and is now a favorite feature on television during the month of October. There is some mild language. I remember a scene where one of Winnifred's unfaithful boyfriends from the past is raised as a zombie, and rather than help them in any way, he tells her to go to Hell. That's about as rough as it gets. The majority of the "adult" humor is low key though, while still managing to amuse older viewers.
It is important to remember that this film is not about what is "believable", and is definitely geared to younger audiences. Yet, it is wonderfully entertaining through repeat viewings even for older audiences despite moments of predicatability or inexplicable fantasy.
The interplay between Max and his little sister, Dani, is believable and rather witty. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Dani agrees to be used as an excuse for her big brother to spend time with the girl of his dreams... on one condition. "Next year, we go trick-or-treating as Wendy and Peter Pan... with tights or it's no deal." A very young Thora Birch, then 11, played Dani as one canny negotiator! The relationship we glimpse between the boy from early Salem, Thackery, and his sister was an interesting way to show that while times, customs, and social perceptions change, some things are just universal.
Speaking of familial interaction, this film is worth viewing just for the delightfully enchanting chemistry between Bette Midler, Cathy Nagimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker who play the Sanderson sisters. Each one has their own wicked little idiosyncrasies, yet they manage to also maintain an amusingly tight sisterly harmony to the very end. There is no doubt who the headliners are in Hocus Pocus, nor is there anything quite so contagiously giddy as adults who throw themselves whole-heartily into their play.These three project mischievous fun delightfully, and throw out the challenge to adult viewers... Are you ever too old to just have fun? Summary: great family viewing any time of the year!
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