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The Hollywood Insider Hocus Pocus 2 Review

Photo: ‘Hocus Pocus 2′

In 1993, the world was graced with the mischievous Halloween classic, ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Everyone loved the tale of the Sanderson sisters and their zany antics adjusting to the 90s world. The film went on to become a must-watch during the spooky season, and now elicits pure nostalgia for its audience. Fast forward to 2022, and the witches reunite for one more Halloween-filled adventure. On September 30th, ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ was released on Disney+ nearly 30 years after the original. And the witches are back! Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy return to their iconic roles to stir up more mischief and magic for a new generation. 

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For ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ a new Black Flame Candle is lit, and a new trio of kids is forced to confront the Sanderson sisters. The new Disney original is directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Jen D’Angelo and this new magical journey navigates its 2022 context while providing more insight into the sisters themselves. It’s a fun film that fits in perfectly for a family movie night, and a good opener to the Halloween movie season. 

It’s 2022, and I Put a Spell on You

The original movie banks off of its 90s aesthetic, wrapping it in the perfect amount of nostalgia as years have passed. There’s so much to love within it, making any sequel a valid concern, and it’s been many years. Not only did this sequel to ‘Hocus Pocus’ have to live up to the name and nostalgia of the original, it had to thrive in the 2022 modern context and adhere to the times. Luckily, ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ was able to play to a new audience and a younger generation while still appealing to fans of the original. It’s a tough balancing act, but not impossible. There are enough beats throughout the film that pay homage to everything we know and love, but there’s a fresh layer of jokes and personalities thrown into the mix to keep it updated. 

Rendezvous at the Premiere of ‘Hocus Pocus 2’

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Gen Z deserves its own version of classics to look back on, though a bulk of media content is slow to understand how teenagers actually act and talk. With ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ the young characters act their age, and much like the first installment, they use their teenage wit to outsmart the witches multiple times. It’s always endearing when the intelligence of kids isn’t underestimated, and when it comes to tricking the Sanderson sisters, you can tell that there’s a lot of fun on the way. Time will tell if this sequel will last in the minds and hearts of its viewers. You can’t outdo the original, but you can create a proper companion piece, and that’s exactly what ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ feels like.

Hocus Pocus 2 – The Villain’s Tale

As time has passed, the world’s fascination with villains and other wicked characters has only grown. The inclination of villains being misunderstood rather than being evil has taken over the storytelling world. For example, 2014’s ‘Maleficent’ saw a new side to the original Sleeping Beauty story, giving the villain’s perspective. Changes from the fairytale and its subsequent Disney film were made to paint Maleficent in a more sympathetic light, and a constant flow of movies, television shows, and books have gone on a similar route. For ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ there’s another balancing act going on with the Sanderson sisters. They don’t exactly follow a singularly villainous route. Though we love these sisters, they make a habit of eating children, so they’re obviously not the best role models. We still get to follow them and care about their sisterly relationship, but they are still antagonists in the film – vibrant antagonists who make the film that much more enjoyable.

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The film opens with a flashback of the girls as children living in 1600s Salem, and the young actresses who portray them (Taylor Paige Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and Juju Journey Brener) do a wonderful job of inhabiting the characters and matching the mannerisms of their older counterparts. With this flashback, we are given more understanding of these girls’ upbringing and their view of the world. We are able to sympathize with them, but we are not expected to condone their evil actions. This balance leads to a cathartic ending for this film, and achieves what other modern works often lack. Moreover, The Sanderson sisters are so iconic, and none of them have lost their touch after all these years, they’re all still just as magnetic and ostentatious as we could hope for. Praise for Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as they once again hypnotize the screen! You can just tell they had so much fun filming this movie, much like its earlier counterpart.

An Unforgettable Sisterhood

Much of the sympathy for the Sanderson sisters is the fact that they are sisters, and their dynamic with one another is amusing with a relatable side. To further the themes of sisterhood, the new main trio trying to fight the witches off is a quirky group of girls with some broken friendships that need to mend. Though we all miss Dani, Max, Allison, and Thackery from the original, the new, younger cast of characters, played by Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, and Belissa Escobedo, provide a sincere emotional journey that ties into that cathartic ending. 

All in all, this film is an entertaining ride that ups the musical elements and tells a new story. With the emotional threads tied in, there’s a lot to like. Understandably, it’s not the same magic as the original, (though Billy Butcherson, the lovable zombie played by Doug Jones, is back!) but that doesn’t dismiss it. It’s a good watch that targets a wide audience, and I recommend you tune into it sometime during this Halloween season. 

Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo, Doug Jones, Sam Richardson, Tony Hale, Froy Gutierrez, Hannah Waddingham, Taylor Paige Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and Juju Journey Brener


Director: Anne Fletcher

Writers: Jen D’Angelo (screenplay), David Kirschner & Blake Harris (story by)

Producers: Steven Haft, Lynn Harris, Bonnie Hlinomaz, David Kirschner, Aldric La’auli Porter, David Scharf, Adam Shankman, Ralph Winter

Music: John Debney | Cinematography: Elliot Davis | Editing: Julia Wong

By Rachel Beltowski

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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  • Rachel Beltowski

    Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.

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