BetteBack Review: Bette Midler Enchants In Hocus Pocus

Park Cities People
Disney’s Hocus Focus fails to find its audience
July 22, 1993

Hocus Pocus is a movie with an identity crisis. Is it a kiddie movie? Is it for pre-teens? It’s hard to tell.

This Disney release is about three 17th century witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker(Honeymoon in Vegas, LA. Story) and Kathy Najimy (Sister Act).

The horrific threesome are accidentally conjured up on Halloween night in present-day Salam, Massachusetts.

Banished 300 years ago for practicing their sorcery, the witches – a.k.a. the wicked Sanderson sisters – vowed to one
day reappear, and now they have.

Omri Katz (little John Ross Ewing of Dallas fame), Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw play the kids who stop the Sanderson sisters from stealing the life from all the children in Salem (a trick that makes the old hags young again).

Most of the gags and situations in Hocus Pocus go right over the heads of the younger set, although there were plenty of them in the audience when I saw the film.

After the movie was over I noticed a mom and her four or five year old daughter in the lobby engaged in a serious discussion about the movie. The little girl had just rattled off a string of questions beginning with phrases like How
come…? What did it mean when …What happened to . . .?

The mother turned to me and muttered “This is going to be tough.”

I suspect she wasn’t the only parent answering questions on the drive home.

There’s nothing in Hocus Pocus that young children should not see – it is rated PG – they just won’t understand most of it.

Pre-teens, teens and adults will find the movie doesn’t have enough on the ball to hold their interest.

The special effects are up to parr with other movies and I especially loved the talking cat. The costumes and sets are great, and I loved the musical numbers.

Bette Midler is enchanting as the meanest of the mean -Winifred.

Beyond that there wasn’t much to get excited about. Sarah Jessica Parker plays much the same role she did in LA Story – the blonde bombshell airhead – only this time wearing a witches costume instead of shorts and sneakers.

There are some funny moments in Hocus Pociis, but the movie as a whole is flat If not up to the usual Disney standards. If you opt to take the tots to see this one, may I suggest a matinee.

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