Disney Plus is now streaming Hocus Pocus 2, a sequel to the 1993 original about three witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. The same trio is back, and critics think fans will be pretty happy with the result—provided everyone keeps their expectations in check. It's got a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Samples:
- Nice balance: "The challenge for the sequel to a beloved film is maintaining enough of the original to make the fans happy without being too repetitive or confusing newcomers, and Hocus Pocus 2 gets that just right," writes Nell Minow at RogerEbert.com. This one is a little "sweeter" than the original, with the focus on friendships.
- Nice updates: Sure, it's a "blatant" effort by Disney to boost its streaming platform, writes Claire Shaffer at the New York Times, but the movie "manages to capture the same hokey magic of the original while creatively updating its humor." Bonus: A strong supporting cast (including Tony Hale and Hannah Waddingham) means the three leads don't have to deliver all the laughs.
- Ditto: Brian Lowry at CNN also thinks the sequel does a nice job of "replicating the basic template from the original while introducing a new and more diverse contingent of teens to do battle with the centuries-old witches." The witches' struggles with modern tech are particularly funny. One quibble is that Lowry thinks the movie starts too slowly.
- Hated it: Despite its cult status, the original is "a very bad movie," writes Johnny Oleksinski at the New York Post. And the sequel is "much, much worse." He calls it "charmless" and "awful to the core" and seems to have fun inventing slams: "Director Anne Fletcher’s movie is shtick atop shtick. Putting a pointy hat on a pointy hat. Like witches clinging to life, it gets old." Unlike the original, this one will not have staying power, he concludes.
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