Yes Salem, they’re back

It’s just a bunch of “Hocus Pocus”… and not in a good way

Marissa Getschman, Arts and Entertainment Editor



1hr 44min

Rating: 6.5/10 


Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy reprise roles in Hocus Pocus 2. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

“Hocus Pocus” is a cult classic loved by many, so it was hardly a surprise when Disney announced a sequel almost 30 years later. The promise of more Sanderson Sisters shenanigans was enough to get fans everywhere, both young and old, frothing at the mouth, but did anyone stop to consider what today’s society would do to the wickedly fearsome trio that the world just loves to hate? If ‘the Sanderson Sisters go soft’ was on your 2022 bingo card, congratulations! You may now place your marker. 

“Hocus Pocus 2” was directed by Anne Fletcher (who was born in Detroit!) and runs just under two hours. Despite losing sight of its predecessor’s plotline, the film is an enjoyable (if not cheesy) watch due in part to the interactions between the sisters and modern-day technology. Short on supplies, the quadricentenarian trio are immediately directed to the nearest apothecary – Walgreens! The bright aisles and tall shelves are always full of lotions and potions for anyone looking to appear youthful. With no broom or hoover left for flight, sister Mary is tasked to tame a pair of rascally Roombas.  Those loyal little broomies (Mary’s affectionate name) help the sisters soar over Salem. The entire scene is delightful. Just the kind of whimsy some have waited three decades to relive. 

The original cast members did a wonderful job with what they were given. Bette Midler (Winnie) and Kathy Najimy (Mary) both seem to have strutted directly from the set of the first movie to the sequel. Neither actress has changed a bit and their characters have everything to show for it, especially Mary. Sarah Jessica Parker was the youngest in the first film and has thus changed the most, but she’s still a Sanderson sister through and through. The chemistry between the three iconic actresses is nothing to scoff at! 

Still, one cannot forget to talk about the characters that qualify as the main leads of the movie; Meek-at-first Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), leader Becca (Whitney Peak) and supportive-but-naive Izzy (Belissa Escobedo).  From grade school, the girls cherished their yearly Halloween witchcraft candle ceremonies and did everything together. Then one met a cute boy and communication among the bffs collapsed. The plot is basic at best and the characters feel like they were written specifically to live in the shadow of the Sanderson Sisters until the last scene. They simply don’t carry their own in the same way Max, Dani, Allison, and Binx did in the original.

Peak is quite monotonous in her leading role as Becca, but there is some depth to be found. While she responds to every angle with the same “ugh, really?” attitude, she always seems to know what’s going on. She’s not the typical ditzy lead that leaves audiences pulling at their hair and yelling at the screen. Escobedo and Buckingham were both given smaller roles, but were somehow more interesting. Buckingham played Cassie, the friend who supposedly left the group for a boy, but she didn’t choose to play the typical frenemy type of character. She broke the Disney stereotype and it’s a refreshing change of pace. Escobedo played the typical best friend/sidekick character, but she didn’t phrase her lines as comic relief which was also nice to see for a change. 

The actual comic relief seems to come in the form of Sam Richardson (Gilbert, the Sanderson museum worker) and Tony Hale (Jefry Traske, the mayor/Cassie’s dad). Both characters seemed a bit strained, but they made strong choices crucial to the storyline and kept their intentions complex. Gilbert even ran with the infamous Billy Butcherson in a quest given by Winnie. 

Aside from the actors/characters, “Hocus Pocus” is easily remembered for the various film angles that almost tell a story of their own. A lot can be translated from a half-lit face or a crooked screen. “Hocus Pocus 2” on the other hand is mostly frontal angles which makes the film feel a bit like it was meant for a stage rather than a screen. The Sanderson sisters’ grand entrance features a musical number that feels way too cheesy and forced. It comes out of nowhere and is explained solely by the throw-away lines “who are they even performing for?”  followed by “You!” This franchise is not meant to be a musical. The use of “I Put a Spell On You” in the original film aided in the plot and was easily explained since they were on stage at a party and were actually casting a spell. The first (of two) musical numbers in the sequel could be explained away as a means of the sisters trying to control the new characters, only…it doesn’t work. More than likely the scene was thrown in as a money-grab to showcase Sandersons’ talent. 

All in all, “Hocus Pocus 2” is brimming with inconsistencies. The sequel had potential, but it seems to have lost to poor writing in favor of running with the novelty of having the original Sanderson sisters on set. The nostalgia for flashy witches nowadays makes us all want our own coven, but to enjoy the film, one has to either forget altogether that it is a sequel or be a diehard fan of the Sanderson sisters. There are some bones thrown, such as the appearance of the young Sanderson sisters and the mysterious matriarch they refer to as mother, but that’s about it. Overall, not the best movie of the year.