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Hocus Pocus 2 (2022) October 19th, 2022

Hocus Pocus feels like required reading for my cohort. Something about that wacky oddity of a film terrified me as a kid and charms me as an adult. My wife and I rewatched the original in preparation for Hocus Pocus 2 and what stood out the most (besides the very real terror I still felt about the possibility that these old ugly women would successfully eat children like those in their Grimm inspirations) was the crude adult humor. It’s remarkable how much filth made it into kids movies of the 1990s and thankfully home video will never let them die.

Hocus Pocus 2 is notably neutered in comparison but maintained the spirit and lore of the original. Nevertheless, 30 something moms of my age set social media ablaze as if Hocus Pocus 2‘s bastardization of a beloved childhood touchstone might finally help them understand my feelings about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (April can’t be both their love interest and their foster mother THAT’S NOT OK!!). While I’m empathetic to their plight, I can’t say it’s justified.

Hocus Pocus 2 follows the The Hangover 2 sequel model. Strictly follow the jokes and story beats of the original and you’ve got yourself a cut and paste moneymaker. And like The Hangover 2, Hocus Pocus 2 is nowhere near as funny or fresh as its predecessor. Jokes about virginity are barely eluded to in hushed tones and I don’t think anyone references breasts as a teenage boy’s chief interest in the sequel.

Yes, Hocus Pocus 2 commits the cardinal sin of being a kids movie for children but don’t hold that against its terrific cast. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimi reprise their roles as the Sanderson sisters along with Doug Jones who returns as Billy Butcherson but my heart belongs to Hocus Pocus newcomers Sam Richardson and Tony Hale. The Veep alums must’ve had an inside track on this gig but don’t think for a second that they do anything but chew the scenery and elevate the film.

As a horror fan I’ve tried to curate a list of high quality horror films appropriate for children ages 8-13. Unfortunately the list is small because most great horror is great because it’s… horrifying. The original Hocus Pocus makes the cut along with VIY and maybe the first Goosebumps movie (not counting any films I haven’t seen). Hocus Pocus 2 doesn’t. It brings nothing more to the table than its predecessor and even the supplemented cast of Richardson and Hale are only enjoyable because when I see them I remember how much I loved their other work.

Nostalgia can be a blessing and a curse, too much of the same thing you used to love can ruin your second helping. If you’ve never seen Hocus Pocus there’s really no reason to watch Hocus Pocus 2 and if you loved Hocus Pocus there’s no guarantee you’ll enjoy Hocus Pocus 2. Damed if you do, damed if you don’t… so I guess just don’t.

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