A beloved Disney film gets a sequel twenty-nine years later in Hocus Pocus 2 from Disney +. Anne Fletcher helms the sequel replacing Kenny Ortega, who directed the first film. Television writer Jen D'Angelo pens the script from a story by Blake Harris and David Kirschner in her feature debut.
Twenty-nine years ago, a teenager named Max lit the Black Flame Candle in the town of Salem. With that act, he resurrected the three 17th-century child-stealing sorceresses known as the Sanderson sisters, who steal the essence of children. Despite the plans of the evil trio, Max was able to stop the agenda of the trio with the help of his sister Dani and crush Allison. Unfortunately, the Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Better Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy), have been awoken inadvertently once again by two high school-aged best friends Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Bellisa Escobedo)
The sisters are up to their old tricks when they find themselves back in Salem in the modern day. After realizing that they have incited the wrath of the enchantresses, Becca and Izzy must try their best to stop them from doing so. Becca and Izzy are being helped with their mission by Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), a popular classmate and a former friend working side by side with them. Also in the mix and along for the ride is Gilbert (Sam Richardson), the current owner of the Olde Salem Magic Shoppe, which is also the former home of the Sanderson Sisters.
No matter how popular a film is, receiving a sequel almost three decades later is always sure to get the side of fans. Halloween enthusiasts are devoted to the movie Hocus Pocus in all corners of the world. While I don't necessarily fall into that category, the film was a part of my childhood. So the question is, how does the film fare?
Jen D'Angelo's screenplay for the film opens with a pleasant surprise that die-hard fans will appreciate before bringing the story to the modern day. Kudos to D'Angelo for not adapting the plot of 2018's sequel novel, which had the original film characters Max and Allison's seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, as our heroine. D'Angelo keeps the story strong in her feature debut, and the jokes never appear stale. We have some moments with product placement and the Sanderson sisters' reaction to them, but the punchlines work and never seem forced.
In watching the sequel, it's clear the talent is having a good time portraying the characters again. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Doug Jones reprise their roles from the first film. Milder, Parker, and Naijmy's bond is still strong, and each lady gets a moment to highlight a moment that she loved in the first film.
Doug Jones is neglected to some bromance moments with Sam Richardson's Gilbert, but the duo has great chemistry, and I did crack a smile at their banter. I didn't find anything particularly memorable as everything you see from them will evoke Dej vu moments. However, there is a great moment with Whitney Peak in the third act that I wouldn't mind seeing explored in a threequel.
Harmless and fun, Hocus Pocus 2 should please fans of the original while gaining some new ones.
Final Grade: B
Hocus Pocus 2 is available to stream tomorrow on Disney +