How unlovely is Hocus Pocus 2? Let me count the ways? No, wait, I may run out of numbers. An unwarranted sequel to a film that is only admired for nostalgic buzz, Hocus Pocus 2 has hardly anything to do with its 1993 predecessor, save for expensively, wastefully reunited stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy.
All of these parties try hard with a script that, while credited to Jen D’Angelo, doesn’t appear to have been entirely written as yet.
The strongest subplot in the project introduces a Goosebumps-friendly trio of high school girls – Becca, Cassie and Izzie – who have been lately driven apart by Cassie’s omnipresent boyfriend, Mike. The teenagers’ interest in Halloween and soft magic rituals keep them hanging around their local Salem book-and-spell store, as presided over by Gilbert (Sam Richardson).
All hell breaks loose – literally and figuratively – when the girls accidentally summon the evil Sanderson sisters, as essayed by the headlining movie stars.
At this moment, the film falls into a depressing “Here They Are!” pattern.
Look here, Midler is singing One Way or Another; look there, they run into RuPaul’s Drag Race stars impersonating, well, the Sanderson sisters.
Mostly, the starry trio huddle among themselves muttering to pass the time.
Even their evil inclinations are undone by the film, which insists on an awful redemptory moment.
I mean, they’re witches? The clue is in the title?
There are ridiculous subplots, notably the great Doug Jones returning as a zombie, and Tony Hale’s multi-generational mayor, all of which are spaced out so as to lose coherence and interest. The jokes – which include the Sanderson sisters riding around on Roombas – are heinous. The insistent life lessons about sisterly bonding will drive the most saintly among us to satanic practices.
When shall we three meet again? With all due respect to Midler and company, how about never?