Hocus Pocus 2
I have a big announcement coming shortly that I'm pretty excited about, but that is for the future. Before I get to that, I had a pretty solid weekend. We were out and about, Notre Dame won, The Rockets stomped Northern Illinois and the 49ers won too. After we went out to eat yesterday we watched a movie as a family and checked out...
Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
The 351st review
I'm not one to get into the hyperbole of sequels ruining the originals. For one, there's no point in getting riled about it and for the other, you can always just re-watch the original. For example, I did not like Rob Zombie's Halloween movies and I disliked Halloween Kills even more, but that doesn't make the original Halloween any less great.
I lead with that because I liked Hocus Pocus a lot as a kid. Then when I watched it again a few years ago, I liked it even more. At work we had a discussion about Hocus Pocus vs. Halloweentown. One of those on Team Halloweentown made the argument that people who like Hocus Pocus today only like it for nostalgia reasons and the movie itself is not very good. I strongly disagree . While it's not the best MOVIE around, it's incredibly fun. When I watched it as a young Mr. Pat, I was all for the human characters and was engrossed in their fight for survival. As an adult I liked it for a much different reason and just wanted the Sanderson Sisters on screen when the humans were eating into the runtime. Plus, I give a movie extra credit when it takes place on Halloween and actually feels like Halloween.
I'm not going to go into the plot because it doesn't matter, it's not why you're going to see this movie. You are coming because of nostalgia and the three witches. As much as I loved them the last go around... it's not the same. The movie follows the sequel law of "same but more." Hocus Pocus 2 dials them up to 100 and it's just too much. For one thing, when they're resurrected they just kind of show up. There's no curiosity or celebration; they just break out into a choreographed song and dance routine that goes on too long. Then to make matters worse one of the main characters asks, "Who are they even performing for?"
It's played for laughs but no. You don't get a free pass to do something stupid in a movie just by having a character draw attention to it. It's lazy and it's our first introduction to them after 30 years and THAT'S the best they got?! It was really disappointing. It did get better a bit as it went on, but it just amplified their personalities and the weird quarks that it wears thin well before the movie ends. Even Billy, the zombie from the first one, turns into a cooky comic relief zombie playing carnival games.
It has its moments of funny gags and fun interactions between the sisters but they're too few and far between. One problem is the movie doesn't seem to know how powerful the sisters are. There are two moments where they literally teleport in front of our heroes and other times they're lagging behind ineffectually trying to chase after them. That's not the only thing too. Oftentimes the movie has to let the teens get the jump on them to move the plot forward.
Before I go further into what bugged me the most, I want to briefly talk about my favorite thing. The town's mayor is a descendant of Salem's religious leader who banished the Sandersons hundreds of years ago. The first time we're introduced to him in the present the camera kind of lingers on a profile shot where he's looking evil and mad, and then we find out he's the mayor. At this point I'm thinking he's going to be a bad guy but the movie swerves a little bit and he's just the nicest guy possible. He's played by Tony Hale, Buster Bluth of "Arrested Development" fame and every time he's on screen he's so full of excitement and happiness, it made me laugh every time. Plus, his goal to get a caramel apple is one of my favorite subplots of the whole thing.
My biggest problem is how the movie tries to soften the witches who lure children to their house and murder them. Of course we get their backstory to learn they were victims of the patriarchy and religious fervor of their era literally forcing them into witchcraft to survive. The Sandersons were fun because they were evil. In the first movie while they had nooses around their necks, they're still taunting the villagers and promising to murder more children when they come back. This one makes them a victim of circumstance and is so obsessed with giving everyone a happy ending, it loses a lot of its bite. It's the same reason I always whine about Rob Zombie's Michael Myers. Making Michael a victim of a terrible childhood makes the character less scary and interesting.
It's OK in spurts and doesn't detract from the original. I have other problems with it, but it would be nitpicking. If I'm honest, I'm mostly happy they got to make this movie if for no reason than that Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy really wanted to and they look like they're having a blast. Plus, I ignored a lot of the problems of the original because I liked it so much, so it would be unfair to look too deeply into this one's goofy flaws. It's just a shame because it's the exact same movie with the same beats just updated to take place 30 years into the future. I wished I liked it more.