‘Hocus Pocus 2’ is a fun yet unsubstantial story


(from left) Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy in “Hocus Pocus 2” by Walt Disney Pictures

Emma Minnick, Editor-in-Chief

The 1993 film “Hocus Pocus” has long been considered a Halloween classic. The film is well loved for its comedic, family friendly tone. The stars of the film are the iconic Sanderson sisters, Winnifred, Sarah, and Mary, played by Better Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy respectively.

This Halloween season, the Sanderson sisters returned in the Disney+ film “Hocus Pocus 2,” starring many original actors as well as some new faces. Given that the original is so beloved, the long awaited sequel garnered a lot of anticipation from fans. The film broke streaming records for the most views as a streaming original film in 2022. While the movie’s hype is undeniable, how did the film itself compare to the original?

The main appeal of “Hocus Pocus 2” is the return of the iconic Sanderson sisters, played by their original actresses. And in my opinion, they did not disappoint. The performances of Midler, Parker, and Najimy were by far my favorite part of the film. The trio returned with the same campy, comedic brand of evil that first charmed audiences nearly 30 years ago. The actresses fit perfectly into the reprisal, proving again that they were perfectly cast.

The new cast, however, left something to be desired. The main character, Becca, played by Whitney Peak, was a likable but one dimensional protagonist. Her best friend, Izzy, played by Belissa Escobedo, was played in a way akin to fan favorite character Dani Dennison, played by Thora Birch. Dani was a beloved character due to her witty personality and childlike curiosity. Izzy’s replication of this falls flat, and she feels more like the classic “best friend” character, used only to aid the protagonist. A new cast member I did enjoy, however, was Gilbert, played by Sam Richardson. I liked the idea of the Sanderson sisters having “fans” in the modern age, especially in the form of a well-intentioned occult expert.

My biggest critique of the film was its blatant use of “nostalgia baiting”. Of course, any sequel to a film must rely on its source material, but I felt that “Hocus Pocus 2” used its predecessor as a crutch rather than a source of inspiration. The plot was rather repetitive of the first film, and the deviations that were added felt out of place. Where the story fell flat, it often propped itself up with references to the first film. Most of the content pandered to the nostalgia of fans. Rather than tell a new, interesting story using beloved characters, the film seemed to say “Hey, the Sanderson sisters are back! Don’t pay attention to anything else!” The result was a bland, repetitive plot.

I want to make it clear that I believe sequels and remakes can be done right. Fan favorite media with loveable characters can, and sometimes should, be reiterated for a new generation. I think “Hocus Pocus” was the perfect story to translate into a new era, and the sequel could have been a classic. However, it felt at times like a cheap copy rather than a new iteration.

Overall, I would rate “Hocus Pocus 2” 3 stars out of 5.