Now the witches are back. And there’s hell to pay. The Sanderson Sisters make their grand return in Hocus Pocus 2, ready to wreak havoc on Salem again. But with a couple of smart-thinking teens and a familiar zombie friend, the trio of spell-casters may have met their match.
Without missing a beat, the wonderful Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy hop back on the broom to deliver a roaring performance. The film is truly at its best when they’re on screen. From musical numbers to quippy one-liners, all three feel at home as the beloved witches, and they’re magnetic as ever.
Even our old pal Billy Butcherson is back and better than ever, getting more opportunities to shine in this sequel. He might be chasing after his head, but Doug Jones gets more screen time and dialog, which feels much deserved for the iconic undead character.
As for the new cast, Sam Richardson really steals your attention as Gilbert, the charismatic owner of the Olde Salem Magic Shoppe. A store that just so happens to be in the old Sanderson house.
The young actors do a great job, but I didn’t find them as endearing as the kids from the original film. They have moments where they banter well with the Sanderson Sister, but it mostly felt like the standard Disney Channel formula.
My biggest issue with legacy sequels like these is it can feel like it’s more focused on reeling in younger audiences than giving original fans what they want and deserve. It’s clear in this case, as original stars Omri Katz, Thora Birch, and Vinessa Shaw were reportedly not even asked to be in the sequel. And that was a huge mistake in my book.
Hocus Pocus 2 is a worthy sequel, mainly for the witches themselves. You can’t have a reunion of Midler, Parker, and Najimy without it being iconic and magical. The film will surely usher in new fans, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a spark missing since it doesn’t feel complete.
But if you keep a close eye, you’ll spot some subtle references to the original film, even a touching tribute to the late Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall; who memorably played “The Devil” and his grumpy wife.
Hocus Pocus 2 premiers Friday exclusively on Disney+