BetteBack Review: “Hocus Pocus” – Casting Spells?

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Hocus Pocus‘ spells disaster
By Doug Erode

Mister D: I forgot how hostile critics were to this movie. So far I have gone through about 20 reviews and this was one of the nicer ones. I do remember reading some positive ones growing up and I’ll find them. But part of my site has always been about showing the good, bad, and ugly in order to show you the strength of character and persistence you have to stay in this business. It’s just one more thing to admire about Bette Midler. One good thing…this became a huge cult hit which critics didn’t bank on and brings Bette Midler new fans every year just like Beaches and maybe, First Wive’s Club (well, the divorce rate’s kind of high here!)

Has someone cast a spell on Bette’Midler’s once divine movie career? First, she backed out of last summer’s “Sister Act“; it went on (with Whoopi Goldberg) to become one of the Disney company‘s alltime hits.

Then, she agreed to do their film for this summer, “Hocus Pocus”; it may go on to become one of Disney’s all-time flops.

Expect very little bubble bubble, and way too much toil and trouble from this fractured fairytale about a trio of 17th-century witches who return on Halloween Eve this year. A confused script by Mick Garris, compounded by the uncertain direction of Kenny Ortega, conspire to turn this one into a toad.

Tn 1693, the three sisters are convicted by Salem, Mass., residents of sucking the life force out of little children. They’re hanged, but can return to earth if a certain enchanted candle is ever lit by a virgin. When some kids sneak into the abandoned house three centuries later, wouldn’t you know that one of them – yup, a virgin – is dumb enough to strike a match, despite efforts-to stop him by a black cat that actually contains the soul of an innocent victim from ages ago. Before you can say trick or treat, the bugeyed gals are riding around on broomsticks, looking for children to eat.

Midler is the wicked one, Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act”) the giddy one, and Sarah Jessica Parker (“Honeymoon in Vegas“) the ‘boycrazy’one. The group mugging grows’tiresome after about three minutes, though the film has another hour and 40 to go.

“Hocus Pocus” wants to be a farce and a fairytale at the same time, and the two don’t jell.

“Hocus Pocus” never settles for a style.

A hex on this film!

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4 thoughts on “BetteBack Review: “Hocus Pocus” – Casting Spells?

  1. Bette may have the last laugh with this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hocus Pocus becomes her all-time fan favorite, post-release. I checked on the Amazon websites (US and UK), and the dvd/vhs releases have a customer rating of 4.5 out 5 stars (separate votes). I think that’s the highest rating of any film she’s ever made. I’ve always enjoyed watching it, and I believe it’s one of Bette’s favorite roles, as well. The movie has a certain enthusiasm about it, that makes each scene irresistable. Sometimes the critics get it wrong, and this is one of those times. Thanks for bringing this wonderful gem back into our consciousness.

  2. I LOVE the pic! Too bad they didn’t make a saturday morning cartoon of Hocus Pocus! I would have watched it!

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