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On All Hallows Eve, 29 years past, a candle was lit by a virgin, unwittingly igniting a fervor and conjuring a spell everlasting with the release of Hocus Pocus. Now with almost three decades of loyal fans, the Halloween season couldn’t possibly be complete without the Sanderson Sisters. The film, which opened with a faint spark, would eventually become one of the most beloved holiday films of all time and capture the hearts of millions of mortals the world over.
Flying forward to the modern era of streaming services, countless legacy sequels. and non-stop media coverage of explosive releases like Top Gun: Maverick, it almost nonsensical not to wonder if the spell that helped lift Hocus Pocus to the status of pop culture classic could reignite the same ghoulishly delightful reception with a sequel all its own and craft a whole new reign for our favorite sisters of Salem. This Halloween season, we finally get our answer to that question.
Hocus Pocus 2 is spellbindingly spectacular, completing the impossible task of reviving the magic and mischief we all know and love from the original classic, all while weaving a new legend destined to become a spooky staple for generations to come!
It all comes from a beautiful concoction of nostalgic callbacks, new story direction, and a deeper dive into the very origins of what would become the legend of The Sanderson Sisters.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy charge back onto the screen with the same comedic timing, charm, and essence we’ve come to adore from Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, making the viewer really question if any time has passed at all. They do not miss a single cue, bringing back peak performances that will release an overflow of pumpkin spiced flavored serotonin.
In many ways, not much has changed for the Sandersons, as they one again crash into the modern world with a hilarious sense of innocence, struggling to catch up to the rest of us here in the 21st Century, and along with that struggle comes comedic gold and plenty of very familiar slapstick chemistry that will leave you coming to a rolling boil of laughter. All the same, the sisters have learned the lessons of their past failings, wanting a shot at redemption and to take their vengeance out on the mortals of Salem with the power of song (Yes, it wouldn’t be Hocus Pocus without a musical number) and wickedly misplaced optimism.
There is definitely more than meets the eye of a very special spell book here, and with it, Hocus Pocus 2 avoids turning into a layered graveyard of fan service and tired gags that many legacy sequels have trekked upon.
Instead, the movie branches into a fresh and unique territory that contains plenty of new and diverse elements, making it as relevant as ever. Hocus Pocus 2 shines through the expectations and holds its own Black Flame candle up proudly without the need to heavily rely on what came before.
It does this in two ways, with the first being a subtle and brief glimpse into the Sandersons’ past, as well as some additional sprinkles of character development for our very well established witches. This new element adds to the rich tapestry of the legendary tale tastefully and without diluting the core of what made the sisters so special to us all in 1993.
To do this, Disney conjures up some fresh faces that bring the young Sanderson Sisters to life, each being a perfect mirror into their older counterparts. Taylor Henderson takes the helm as young Winifred, playing alongside Nina Kitchen as Young Mary, and Juju Journey Brener as Young Sarah. Each of them bring in the laughs and will leave you wanting more. Clearly, younger versions of our favorite characters seem to be something Disney continues to strike gold with and something audiences can all appreciate.
The second element that brings Hocus Pocus 2 home is the introduction of a brand new cast and stakes, taking shape through the brilliant talent of Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo, along with Veep star Sam Richardson and Toy Story 4 and Arrested Development alum, Tony Hale. That’s not to say there aren’t other fun cameos, including the ever talented Doug Jones, who reprises his role as the clumsy and friendly zombie, Billy Butcherson.
The true standout is Peak, who steals the show and creates a magic spell all her own, going toe to toe with the legendary Midler and company without any trouble fitting right in with the veteran ensemble.
Starring as Becca, Peak opens the door for a brand new twist that drives the film to new heights of emotion and feels. Peak isn’t alone in the battle, as she gets some help from Escobedo, who does a glorious job rounding out the final touches of this wonderful new team. Not to forget some fun moments with both Buckingham and Richardson, both who stand on their own in this incredible new team with a nostalgic “passing of the torch” vibe that would make Team Dennison proud.
There is plenty in store for hardcore fans of the original, and plenty of reasons for newcomers to join in the fun. Whether or not any other surprises await will be discovered when Hocus Pocus 2 flies into its debut on Disney Plus September 30th. Make sure not to miss the spooky event of the season!