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One-on-One: Is ‘Hocus Pocus’ a good movie?

Hex No


In 2006, Bette Midler made an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” making—what I consider—an erroneous claim:

“The reason I love Halloween so much is because I made possibly the greatest Halloween movie ever … I think mine is at least number one or number two.”

I want to gag. I admit, as a child, the only impression I had of the 1993 cult classic “Hocus Pocus” was ads from ABC Family in the mid-2000s. Though I cannot say I find the music of Bette Midler distasteful, her portrayal of Winnie Sanderson never hooked me in; not as a child and not as someone who can legally consume copious amounts of alcohol to alter my opinions.

So, I was shocked when I looked at IMDB’s “Top 100 Halloween movies of All-time” to find that “Hocus Pocus” did in fact sit at number one on the list.

But is it a good movie? Far from it.

I will say that I am late to the game on this one. I didn’t watch “Hocus Pocus” as a child. Really, it’s been a challenge to watch the movie in its entirety in my early 20s. Though it’s surreal to see a young Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”) and Kathy Najimy (“King of the Hill”), the movie felt too tied and centered around Bette Midler for this to be considered a Halloween classic.

During the “I Put A Spell On You” performance (which I knew was coming), I couldn’t agree more with little Dani who screams, “No! No!” and covers her ears to prevent an enchantment from being cast over her. In my mind, I reacted the same way when Midler continued her showboat in the scene.

It seemed like every character, including Parker’s and Najimy’s, couldn’t be less aware of their own surroundings, and gave a lackluster performance besides Midler and Binx the cat.

Now, I understand that this is a movie geared toward children, and the acting quality is not quintessential, but I couldn’t help but laugh when the bus ran over Binx and the rest of the group reacted in horror. Spoilers: he survives, but it’s one of the most anti-climactic faux-deaths. Also, it was one of the least graphic images of a cat getting run over, but I digress – this was a movie for children.

Maybe I give this movie too much hate. It’s possible that I’m missing the point of all of it: it may be so bad it’s actually good. Right? That’s the point? I know at some time, a group of “Hocus Pocus” stans will wreak havoc on me for the opposing viewpoint, but to say this Halloween movie is a great movie is one of pure irony.

Yes, It’s Spook-tacular


In 1993, Bette Midler “put a spell” on us, and 27 years later, our fascination with “Hocus Pocus” has not ceased since.

Although it was initially regarded as a box office failure, the movie gained attention from annual airings on Disney Channel and ABC Family. Within a few years, “Hocus Pocus” solidified its position as a cult classic, and it’s not hard to see why.

The concept of witches coming back to life to suck the life out of children is innately terrifying. As a child, it gave me nightmares. However, as I got older, I realized the comedic value of “Hocus Pocus.”

The Sanderson sisters are undeniably hilarious. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker were just beginning their long and successful acting careers at this point, and this manifested in a dynamic chemistry with a raw comedic energy that most well-seasoned actresses had refined. This, coupled with the clearly adult jokes that just managed to slip over our head as children but cause relentless laughter as adults, means that every viewer has an entirely different but wonderful experience with the movie.

I’ll be the first to say it: the movie gives us a plot and a half. The story is intricately woven, providing us with just enough backstory to understand what’s going on while also keeping us on our toes. Just when you think everything is over, the climax of the movie hits.

While I’m not advocating for “Hocus Pocus” to be viewed as a cinematic masterpiece, it’s top-notch for a Disney movie filmed in the ‘90s and the best Halloween Disney film of all time (sorry, “Halloweentown”).

My opponent Anthony says that “Hocus Pocus” is a bad movie, but would a crappy film have as big of a following as “Hocus Pocus?” All 124,000 members of the “Hocus Pocus” Facebook group that I belong to would say no.

“Hocus Pocus” is the perfect balance of charming, funny and spooky. My sister and I cherish this movie as an important part of our childhood, and my younger brothers enjoy the funky plot and “scary” moments. Therefore, I think my following statement is warranted and well-supported: there is no greater Halloween nostalgia than sitting down with family and watching this truly timeless classic play out.

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