I have a confession: I didn't really like the original Hocus Pocus as a kid. I remember watching it. I remember wanting to be Thora Birch because she was the "it girl" at the time — we were the same age, and she was in all of the coolest movies. But I don't remember actually liking the movie. So, I was curious if I would as an adult.
The movie definitely has enough hype. While it wasn't a box office success when it first premiered back in 1993 — opening in the middle of summer probably didn't help — and the critics didn't exactly love it at the time, either, the Disney flick has surged in popularity... especially among the millennial generation (aka me). The movie stars the incredible Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a trio of witches, so it's not a total shocker why audiences might be so enchanted by it. The film, which found its audience thanks to home video (remember those things?), even now has a long-awaited sequel.
Still, I wasn't entirely convinced. I remember the movie being, well, hokey. So in honor of Hocus Pocus 2, which premiered Sept. 30 on Disney Plus, I settled in for an early evening viewing.
A Little Refresher
A trio of kids, including Birch, accidentally bring the trio of witches — the Sanderson sisters — back to life after the townpeople hung them in Salem 300 hundred years before. They placed their bodies under a curse that would summon them from beyond the grave if a virgin ever lit the Black Flame Candle. And, wouldn't you know, a virgin did.
My Thoughts, Observations, & (Sometimes) Shock
Kicking It Off With Capital Punishment
I was surprised they actually showed the hanging since it's sold as a light-hearted film intended for kids, but hey — when an adventure entails a virgin, along with devouring the souls of children, I guess anything goes!
The Spectre of Sex
And let's talk about the "virgin" part. I remember how much this stood out for me as a youngster and not knowing what a virgin was back then. At the time, I was eight years old, the proper demographic for the flick, and now 30 years later, I gotta say I think the whole emphasis on virginity is a weird plot point for a children's movie.
The protagonist of Hocus Pocus is Max (Omri Katz), the older brother of Dani, Birch's character. There are two major things you're supposed to know about him: He recently moved from California to Massachusetts, and he's a 15-year-old virgin. The latter becomes important when he encounters the black flame candle in the Sanderson Sisters' house-turned-museum and brings them back to life. Throughout the movie, his virginity is criticized by practically everyone, including Dani, who's a nine-year-old! What does she know about sex?
That's the thing with this movie — there's too much sex in it for a child's movie. The virginity plot point is inappropriate, and no one's sexuality should be ridiculed. Max's virginity becomes the butt of every joke, and he's constantly shamed for being a virgin — especially when it's alluded that the object of his affection, played by Vinessa Shaw, isn't a virgin. WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT VIRGINITY IN A HALLOWEEN MOVIE? Your guess is as good as mine.
A Trip to Cougar Town
Then there's SJP's character, Sarah Sanderson, the horniest sister. In the beginning of the movie, we see that girlfriend's thirsty AF as she lusts over Thackery Binx, the boy who eventually turns into a cat, back in the 1600s. Then when the sisters are brought back to life — thanks to virgin Max — Sarah is again lusting over every man or boy in sight. She's even seen kissing a teenage boy.
Look, I know it's been 300 years since she got any... but, again, why is this important to note in a movie intended for kids? I feel like this is something that would go over most children's heads, but as an adult, I am bewildered by it. Movies for kids shouldn't have kids being grilled about their sex life or showcase an adult lusting over kids.
In Conclusion, An Unpopular Opinion
Look, is the movie enjoyable for kids besides all the sex? Sure. I guess. There's a fun musical number, the vibe of Salem during Halloween is just that — a total vibe — and it's hokey enough to enjoy as a family.
But honestly, I think the movie isn't all that great, and I question my generation's obsession with it. While it's always strange to return to childhood pleasures with grownup eyes, I definitely don't see myself returning to this one for a while... try 300 years.