REVIEW – “Hocus Pocus 2”

Sequels to beloved classics we grew up with can be tricky to pull off, especially when there’s been such a gap between each film. Nostalgia is such a dangerous tool with these types of films, because on the one-hand the most obvious example of how to do it well is Spider-Man: No Way Home that found the sweet spot between old and new; nostalgia and originality. On the other hand, you may find legacy sequels that never live up to the original yet try to milk what goodwill that’s left in the franchise until it’s absolutely bone-dry. Hocus Pocus 2 has been a film I’ve read rumors about since my earliest days on the internet, alongside the likes of a Space Jam 2 or National Treasure 3. So clearly, the appetite is there for the sequel and it feels like the perfect time to do it.

The film takes place nearly thirty years after the original film, as the Sanderson sisters return to Salem and a group of high-schoolers band to stop them before they wreak havoc. Sound familiar? That’s because Hocus Pocus 2 is essentially the same exact film as the original, both in its structure and sense of humor. You may be reading that and thinking Hey, the first film is great! More of the same sounds good to me! – and as a fan of the original, I would normally be inclined to agree. However, I found Hocus Pocus 2 to simply be lesser-than the original on nearly every note. Less funny, less endearing, and somehow just feels less like a real movie.

The performances in the film are not bad, the main trio of the Sanderson sisters are obviously great as usual. The original cast really is just as good as you remember them, especially Bette Midler who simply hasn’t missed a beat. It’s also nice to see Doug Jones return as Billy Butcherson, despite it not being a particularly big role. Usually where these franchise movies lose me are with the new cast, but everyone here is as equally good as the kids and adults from the first film. The issue mainly lies in the script and how lazy it feels. I won’t pretend that the original film has some compelling arc, but it’s funny and entertaining at every turn. This one simply feels like it’s going through the motions of checking off a nostalgia list.

I suppose there’s some fun to be had in spurts and maybe some younger viewers will enjoy this one the same way a lot of us did the original, but I was simply bored by this. It feels less like a film that the director and writers actually wanted to make as much as it does a studio-mandated film to be marked as content for its streaming service. Simply put, given the long period of time Disney has had to make a sequel to the original film and how long it took for us to finally see it, I expected a lot more than what we got.


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