Starring: Bette Midler, Kathy Naijmy, Sarah Jessica Parker
Director: Kenny Ortega
Running Time: 96 mins
Hocus Pocus is an American film about a trio of 17th Century witches who are awoken in present day Salem, Massachusetts, and only a group of three young heroes can save the town’s children from the grasp of the evil sorceresses.
This is a really cute movie. It may not be Disney’s best live-action of the ’90s, but with fun-loving energy, really enjoyable performances and a gung-ho approach to all things Halloween, there’s a lot about Hocus Pocus that made me smile.
From the hilarious lead turns by Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker and especially Bette Midler as the witches to the heroic young leads Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw and above all Thora Birch, there’s so much energy on screen wherever you look, and it all works brilliantly in the vein of a fun-loving family adventure.
At its heart, there’s nothing immensely new or ground-breaking about Hocus Pocus. If you’ve seen any Disney movie before, you know exactly where this is going. However, it’s so silly at moments that there’s no reason to take it seriously – it’s best to just sit back and let its enthusiastically crazy mind just take over.
Midler’s hilariously zany performance as an old-timey witch is really great fun, and it fits in with the film’s charmingly festive love of Halloween. In fact, Hocus Pocus is as close to Christmas as Halloween is ever going to be on the big screen, with a blend of fairy tale fun and lightweight family adventure that wouldn’t be at all out of place if there were some snow on the ground too.
Admittedly, Hocus Pocus is a little on the fluffy side – even for Disney. The target audience here is definitely under-8s, and even though there are a couple of running gags for older viewers, adults may find this a little too lightweight compared with some of the studio’s real greats.
What’s more is that the comedy isn’t amazing. Most of the laughs and fun come from the energy of the performances, while a large proportion of the written jokes fall either flat, or make little impression. It’s still a fun movie, and it’ll definitely make you smile, but I didn’t find myself rolling in tears of laughter at any point here.
Overall, Hocus Pocus is a really cute, festive Halloween movie that young kids will love, and older viewers will like too. It’s not perfect by any means, and comes off as a little too lightweight at times, but with great energy, silly action, a festive spirit and great performances, there’s a lot about Hocus Pocus that will put a smile on your face, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.