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‘Hocus Pocus 2’ about as much fun as cleaning up after Halloween vandals

Movies & TV

The Sanderson Sisters are back to bewitch the town of Salem, Massachusetts and only a group of kids can stop them.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s not only the basic plot of the 1993 film “Hocus Pocus,” it’s also the basic plot of the recent straight-to-Disney+ sequel, “Hocus Pocus 2.” The details might be different but the story is pretty much the same.

In “HP2,” Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) are tricked into resurrecting the Sanderson Sisters, Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy). The witchy trio soon starts running amock in Salem, bent on killing Mayor Traske (Tony Hale) and completing a spell that will make them all-powerful.

Can Becca and her friends stop the Sandersons?

There’s a lot about this movie that’s the same as the original film. The Sanderson Sisters are still pretty annoying. Most of the best moments still involve Winifred’s zombie ex-boyfriend, Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones). The film still tries to substitute overacting and slapstick gags for genuine comedy. Some things never change.

Not everything is the same, however. The kids in the new one give more convincing performances. The movie is slightly more amusing than the first one. The subplot involving Mayor Traske trying to get his hands on a very special caramel apple probably wasn’t intended to be taken as a metaphor for chasing a dream you can never catch, but I took it that way and it actually had an emotional impact on me.

Unfortunately, between the tired story that’s obviously trying to set up a new generation of witches in Salem to the way the whole movie looks like a cheap straight-to-video sequel churned out just to make money (which is basically what the movie is), “HP2” undercuts everything it has going for it. Watching this movie is a bit like waking up the morning after Halloween to find that pranksters have given your home the most intense toilet paper and egging and now you have to clean it up.

With all this said, most people I know who love the original “Hocus Pocus” do so because they saw it as kids and they have a lot of nostalgia for it. I didn’t see the first flick until about two years ago, so I don’t have that connection to it. With that in mind, I feel comfortable saying that if you love “Hocus Pocus,” you might want to check out “Hocus Pocus 2.” Most of the highlights are the same as they were the first time around and it’s only an hour and 47 minutes long so you won’t kill a whole evening watching it.

You can stream “Hocus Pocus 2” right now on Disney+.

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