Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: The First Round Are From Some Of The Major Outlets Who Are On The Positive Side

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Does ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Live Up To The Magic Of The Original? Here’s What The Reviews Say
By Molly Bradley
Sept. 29, 2022

Portrait of Bette Midler. by Nino Munoz
Portrait of Bette Midler. by Nino Munoz

“Hocus Pocus 2” may not become the cultural touchstone that the original was, but it still captures some of the old beloved magic.

The original “Hocus Pocus,” released in the summer (for some reason) of 1993, didn’t receive instant raves but has since become a mainstream classic. Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: The First Round Are From Some Of The Major Outlets

Now, the Sanderson Sisters are back in a sequel directed by Anne Fletcher, with Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker returning to the screen and actors Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham as young characters meeting the witches for the first time when they accidentally cast a spell to summon them.

It’s always tough for a sequel to live up to a smash hit, especially when the sequel comes almost 30 years later. But it seems like “Hocus Pocus 2,” while not a groundbreaking film captures the beloved magic of the original. Here’s what the critics say.

Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: The First Round Are From Some Of The Major Outlets

Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: The First Round Are From Some Of The Major Outlets

In a slight retread of the first film’s plot, “Hocus Pocus 2” follows two present-day Salem teenagers, Becca and Izzy (Whitney Peak and Belissa Escobedo), who accidentally bring the witchy Sanderson sisters back to life while performing their yearly Halloween night ritual.

[The New York Times]

This time, director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal,” “The Guilt Trip”) and screenwriter Jen D’Angelo have concocted a girl-power take on the franchise, beginning with the origin tale of how the Sanderson sisters became witches.

[SF Chronicle]

The Humor Is Familiar But Satisfying

[The sequel] follows the same goofy comedic approach of the Kenny Ortega-directed first film — namely, how the sisters react to modern inventions like robot vacuums, Amazon’s Alexa and Walgreens. Even a few meta-jokes nod to the Sanderson sisters’ popularity in the world of drag.

[The New York Times]

”Hocus Pocus 2” indulges in a delightful “women out of time” detour as the sisters—in the movie’s best and funniest scenes—confront the 21st century by way of a trip to a Walgreens.

[AV Club]

The Overall Vibes Are Good

It was a pleasant surprise to find that “Hocus Pocus 2” is actually pretty fun. Set in a Stars Hollow-like Salem, it’s the perfect Disney+ movie — seasonally appropriate entertainment that, for at least one night, may save a family from the doom of endless scrolling and indecision.

[Associated Press]

Ultimately, “Hocus Pocus 2” operates as a cheerful throwback to the 1980s/early ’90s genre of plucky kids saving small-town America from existential danger, a vibe tapped into by not just the original “Hocus Pocus” but such classics as “Gremlins,” “Back to the Future” and “The Goonies.”

[SF Chronicle]

The Sanderson Sisters Are Just As Delightful This Time Around

Midler, Parker and Najimy are clearly having so much fun it’s hard to not go along with their hijinks a little bit. All the beats of the first movie are there, including a big Halloween party where the sisters perform.

[Paste Magazine]

Midler, Parker and Najimy don’t treat this like an easy payday. They came ready to play, whether that means singing and dancing, riding on a Swiffer (they couldn’t find a broom, you see), or eating face cream at Walgreens.

[Screen Crush]

Midler, Parker and Najimy effortlessly slip back into their roles, with Midler getting the most screen time and the funniest one-liners. Her performance hovers just below “over the top” for most of the run time, however, but Midler and Fletcher seem to wisely reground it just in time for adult Winifred to deliver the movie’s climactic monologue.

[AV Club]

Admittedly, The Movie Raison D’Être Is A Little Thin

The good news is if you liked Hocus Pocus, you will definitely like Hocus Pocus 2…because it’s basically the exact same movie except with cell phones, better special effects and a cameo from Hannah Waddingham. Imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery. The bad news is…it’s the exact same movie.

[Paste Magazine]

This movie seems to have put more thought into the pharmacy product placement than coming up with a reason the wicked Sanderson sisters would return to Salem — or why it took them 29 years (since the events of the first movie) to do it.

[Screen Crush]

There Are Some Things That Even Work Better In The Sequel

Whereas the first “Hocus Pocus” struggled to maintain narrative momentum thanks to its clunky structure and slightly above Dad Joke-level sense of humor, “Hocus Pocus 2” (minus one shoulder shrug of a musical number) uses the franchise’s witchcraft and world-building to earnestly explore timely themes of identity and inclusivity, for a follow-up that fans may begrudgingly concede is better than the original.

[AV Club]

Director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) takes us back to early Salem to offer an origin story for the sisters (playing teenage Winifred in the prologue, Taylor Henderson has fun channeling the Divine Miss M’s more flamboyant mannerisms). The Sandersons were “misunderstood” and “ahead of their time,” the movie explains, demonstrating a kind of have-it-both-ways thinking that’s perfectly consistent with the politics of the moment.



[While] “Hocus Pocus 2” may be a blatant attempt by Disney to continue propping up its streaming platform Disney+ (where the movie has its debut), it manages to capture the same hokey magic of the original while creatively updating its humor.

[The New York Times]

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12 thoughts on “Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: The First Round Are From Some Of The Major Outlets Who Are On The Positive Side

  1. Fortunately, I have Disney+, and happened to be awake at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning to watch Hocus Pocus 2 as soon as it started streaming.

    I think I’ve read most of the reviews, and can understand the feedback on the good, bad (and the ugly). I’m really happy for Bette. She looks terrific in the sequel (some people say it doesn’t look like she’s aged a year, let alone 30 years since the original), and her energy and enthusiasm throughout the movie certainly stays on pace. Bette, Sarah and Kathy more than hold their own, and it was really fun to watch. Despite mixed reviews, this is a major victory for Bette and team, and the amount of hype and promotion I’m receiving through my social media feeds is relentless [in a good way].

    I waited until now to check out the popularity rating of Hocus Pocus 2 on the Imdb (which includes streaming), as that can be a bellwether or barometer for another potential sequel (Hocus Pocus 3). As of Monday morning, after the weekend results, I notice that Hocus Pocus 2 is #3 in the country (behind Netflix’s NC-17 loosely based Marilyn Monroe biopic, “Blonde”, and the theatrical Olivia Wilde/Harry Styles film, “Don’t Worry Darling”. Also, the original Hocus Pocus from 1993 is #6 in the country this week, which is a double top-ten if there ever were one! I recall a couple years ago “Hocus Pocus” becoming the top-grossing theatrical rerelease of a film for the year (thanks in part to a lack of new material due to Covid).

    I know it is way too early to even be talking about this, but I have my reservations about a Hocus Pocus 3, even if the gals are all in for it.

    ****Potential Spoilers***

    The way that Hocus Pocus 2 ended, it appeared that Disney was setting up the future (if there is to be a franchise) to be all about the three “young” witches, more or less taking over the helm from the Sanderson Sisters. I hope that’s not true, as although I have nothing against those three young actresses, they nowhere near have the chemistry, personality, character, camaraderie and acting abilities of Bette, Sarah and Kathy. I know as time goes on, we’re all getting up there in years, so if there is a decision to be made on behalf of Disney, it might be considered a long-term one–but please, no! There can be no Hocus Pocus without Bette, so I just want to throw that out there now. Okay, so I’m talking about something that nobody else is right now. But I think this is a topic that will gather steam after Halloween, and we have the month of October to evaluate the temperature of the waters. Peace out.

    1. Hey Ron…just wanted to let you know you’re not alone about anything you wrote as far as I’m concerned. I want to write about what nobody wants to talk about. I am just figured I didn’t want to bring anything up like that while people are on a high. I,too, thought this was a big win for Bette and I’m thrilled for that

  2. not quite true: it is not number 3 in the country; it is number one woldwide!
    and it is the biggest movie EVER on disney+.
    „nobody wants to talk about it?“ the whole wold – including bette! – is talking about it (only this site seems a bit reluctant to celebrate bette’s biggest hit): people are in love with the sanderson-sisters!!! the hype is all about them!

    1. What are you talking about? Do you think I don’t know what everybody’s talking about? I get tons of feeds that I pay for. Because they decided only to stream it on Disney and not also so theaters may have had consequences, but no matter, it was a bona fide mega-hit for Miss M. I have yet to see an article that says it was number one. Nobody has written me that it was number one. All that has been written so far is that it’s number one on Disney. If you send me some articles, I’ll be glad to put it up. Or better yet, I’ll just write Bette and her asst and find out through them/ I helped Bette on a project the week before the premiere, and as a thank you she was going to give me tickets for the premiere, but I couldn’t go. And I’ll go check again with the major trades in Hollywood.

    2. I just checked, and currently, it’s one on streaming, which I will put up. The one I saw had movies in theaters and at home combined, and I don’t know how they’d do that. I came from the era where movies in the theater are what you go by, maybe it’s streaming now. I only checked at Rotten Tomatoes so far,and I’ll put up what I can find, and I already had that it was Disney’s biggest-ever debut, but duh

    3. Well until they find a way to consistently have a way to configure one top ten charts I’ll start posting, but I put up about Disney and to me that was a no brainer. But I found numbers for it only on two sites which is ridiculous. One it Rotteb Tomatoes and the other is IMDB…one said #3, and the other # Number One. It’s ridiculous there was nothing on Box Office Mojo or Variety…so who’s not talking? Hollywood has always treated TV as cheap and I know they did not want any movies on cable to be nominated for Oscars yet I see they still are. Some sites just show the Top 10 on each major streaming service. But not combined. I do my best. I’m only one person and I don’t just put up pretty pictures. I’ve been doing this for 2o years and maybe slowing down or forgetting things You don’t have to get snippy. Just say Don could you put this up I think you underplayed the importance. When you turn 68 yell to my ghost you’re doing better than me and I will certainly be glad for you. Thanks for letting me know,

  3. Look Don, we live in times (at least in my country) where we are afraid of a nuclear war… – I’ll take anything these days to get distracted and celebrate – and all the more if it is Bette-related! Your site has always been a daily source of pleasure; reading your posts on Bette has always been cheering me up. That’s why I don’t understand why none of your titles mentions the tremendous success this movie enjoys! Biggest debut on Disney+ ever, number one in over 60 countries all around the world (check flixpatrol.com), breaking all-time streaming records. This is so massive and such a triumph for Bette! – yet none of the titles mentions it… I think it’s time for celebration! (… especially when the original Hocus Pocus is also in the top 5 – 2 in the US again / especially in times like these)
    (Also, I e-mailed you one article in people-magazine in a comment I posted a few days ago / and Bette thanks the fans for making it a record-breaking number 1 on her official twitter account. I could type in hundreds of articels that mention it – but I don’t think that’s the point, right? – Because I think it should be written on your site – where Betteheads from all over the wold meet to celebrate BETTE).

    1. Well some of us know nuclear war us immenint here too. They just don’t talk about on TV Now I saw tons of articles saying what you said…I mean tons. I was ecstatic about the success and I have a video uo and a title that Bette thanks her fans. It could be I saw so many titles I just assumed I had put something up. I know I put up a big photo within an article that touted its success. But it’s more likely I just thought did. I had 3 manor blows to the head… One by falling on my face and busting my front teeth out, one by falling backwards down a staircase, I cant remember the 3rd. I started having memory trouble, vertigo is a big problem and the best of all hallucinations. But those are excuses but they have effected me. Youve had to notice I go missing every once in awhile. And that kills me, because I want to have my site finished before I die. I let Bette and Jill know I’ve been ill and my 30 year relationship fell apart so Im in Florida now. I hate it. My break up was the most painful thing I’ve been through and I may be old but I’ve always looked younger and had energy and I just can’t navigate dating. All this online stuff is just weird to me. I will promise to do better but if you see a fuck up let me know. Cause I could sure use some type of helo. Thank you for letting me knowm BTW where do you live? Xx

      1. I’m working on it. Ive been seeing the global charts but this sreamimg shit seems to have thrown a wrench in things, but the Flobal charsts refect new releases and HP2 wins hands down. A friend wrote and explained some methodology so I’m writing as soon as I type this

  4. A long time ago I used to manage a Home Theater store, and as a result I was the purchaser/buyer for a lot of movies on DVD. There are a couple of trade magazines that I still somehow subscribe to, albeit they mostly focus on movies that are coming out for pre-order on DVD. Nonetheless, they do track current streaming, so I’ll post the 3 lists. As you see the lists, though, you can see how one trade magazine tracks differently than another. This was updated and sent to me on Friday, October 6 (but I’m guessing, like Billboard, it probably was released Thursday, October 5). The trade magazine is Media Play News. The first list is streaming for the week, the second list is streaming for the year, and the third list, is streaming for last weekend. The Imdb (last I checked) still had Hocus Pocus 2 at #3, but their metrics mixes or includes theatrical with streaming, and I believe includes online usage or feedback from their website, but I’m not entirely sure on that. Hope this helps, but bottom line, is Hocus Pocus 2 is a major hit (!!!) and I certainly hope that if there is a franchise to be, it definitely includes Bette, et al. It just wouldn’t be the same without the Sandersons. [Note: the content below was cut and pasted from the original trade, except where noted. Note #2–This information was just released yesterday, so all we really had to go on until then was that the movie was Disney’s #1 streaming movie since Disney + started]

    Reelgood: Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Top-Streamed Content for Week Ended Oct. 5

    October 7, 2022

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    Halloween-inspired movie sequel Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+ topped all streamed content for the week ended Oct. 5, according to new data from Reelgood, which tracks first-party intel from how its 5 million users in the U.S. interact with movies and TV shows on the platform in real-time.

    The movie, co-starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as Salem witches transported to the modern day, is the most-streamed original movie on any platform in 2022, according to industry sources.

    The achievement is significant considering Netflix’s limited series about the late serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (“Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”) is now No. 9 on the streamer’s all-time most-viewed programs after just 12 days of release.

    The movie also bested a strong slate of competitors, including “Star Wars: Andor,” action-adventure Lou, starring Oscar winner Allison Janney, and Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde, starring Ana de Armas as the misunderstood big-screen siren.

    1. Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+)
    2. “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (Netflix)
    3. “Star Wars: Andor” (Disney+)
    4. Lou (Netflix)
    5. Blonde (Netflix)
    6. “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Prime Video)
    7. “House of the Dragon” (HBO Max)
    8. X (Showtime)
    9. “Interview With the Vampire” (Prime Video and AMC+)
    10. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (Apple TV+)

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    Disney: ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Most-Watched Original Movie Ever on Disney+ After Three Days
    The Walt Disney Co. on Oct. 4 announced that the movie sequel Hocus Pocus 2 is the most-watched Disney+ original movie after 72 hours of release since the platform launched in November 2019. Hocus Pocus 2 follows up on the…

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    ‘Hocus Pocus’ Remains Country’s Top-Selling Disc for Second Week
    Disney’s perennial Halloween best-seller Hocus Pocus spent a second-consecutive week atop the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Oct. 10. The 1993…

    And now, the second list:

    ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Year’s Most Watched Streaming Original Film in Its First Three Days

    October 6, 2022

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    The family friendly sequel Hocus Pocus 2, which Disney+ announced was its biggest streaming movie premiere to date, also came out on top when compared with the most-watched streaming original films in the United States in 2022, according to Whip Media data.

    It beat out The Adam Project, The Gray Man, Prey, Luck,and Moonshot at three days post-release among U.S. viewers.

    According to Whip Media data, Hocus Pocus 2 came out on top when compared to the most watched original films across platforms released in 2022, beating the Adam Project, the Gray Man, Prey, Luck and Moonshot at three days post-release:

    1. Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney)
    2. The Adam Project (Netflix)
    3. The Gray Man (Netflix)
    4. Prey (Hulu)
    5. Do Revenge (Netflix)
    6. Day Shift (Netflix)
    7. Purple Hearts (Netflix)
    8. Persuasion (Netflix)
    9. Luck (Apple TV+)
    10. Moonshot (HBO Max)

    Disney+’s ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Tops Weekly Whip U.S. Streaming Movies Chart

    October 7, 2022

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    Disney+’s Hocus Pocus 2 topped the Whip Media chart of streaming movies among U.S. consumers Sept. 30-Oct. 2, with its predecessor Hocus Pocus, also streaming on Disney+, landing at No. 2.

    The sequel to the 1993 classic finds the three witches, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, brought back to modern day Salem by two young women who must stop them from wreaking havoc.

    Taking the No. 3 spot on the chart was Netflix’s Blonde, which began streaming Sept. 28. The movie is a fictionalized take on the life of Marilyn Monroe and stars Ana de Armas.

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    TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV and movie viewership tracking app with 21 million global users. The streaming originals chart rankings are determined by streaming original TV series with the greatest share of views in the given week, among a balanced panel of U.S. users of the TV Time app. The movie rankings are determined streaming movies with the greatest share of views in the given week, among a balanced panel of U.S. users of the TV Time app.

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    Falling from No. 2 to No. 4 on the chart was Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which began streaming on Disney+ Sept. 8. The superhero film finds the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced — one of self-discovery. But his efforts are interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods.

    Dropping from the top spot to No. 5 on the chart was Netflix’s Do Revenge. An updated twist on the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train, the movie follows two high school girls who make a pact to exact revenge on each other’s rival. It began streaming Sept. 16.

    Top Streaming Movies Among U.S. Consumers Sept. 30-Oct. 2:

    1. Hocus Pocus 2 — Disney+
    2. Hocus Pocus — Disney+ [Note from self: not a surprise–as soon as you finish watching HocusPocus2, Disney has it set up so that you can immediately start streaming Hocus Pocus]
    3. Blonde — Netflix
    4. Thor: Love and Thunder — Disney+
    5. Do Revenge — Netflix
    6. Lou — Netflix
    7. The Munsters — Netflix
    8. DC League of Super-Pets — HBO Max
    9. Morbius — Netflix
    10. Elvis — HBO Max

    Peace and love!!! By the way, Mister D, I forgot to ask: Are you okay, being in Florida? I don’t know exactly where in Florida you are (Pensacola Beach??), but I’ve been thinking about you often since Hurrican Ian hit. Did you manage to escape the weather unscathed? Thoughts and best wishes that everything is okay for you!!!

    1. Thank yoy Ron, cause I’m getting sp confused and this helps For some reasons if someone starts talking numbers to me I just …,my eyes start to glaze over. If i can read it and study it’s fine, but lets just say I’m not good at it…lol

  5. Quick Update:

    The Imdb just listed Hocus Pocus 2 at #1 for the week, with Hocus Pocus (1993) at #3!!!

    Go, Bette, Go!!!

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