three witches look shocked in a convenience store
Courtesy Matt Kennedy / Disney+

While 1993’s Hocus Pocus was neither a critical nor financial smash hit upon its release, every subsequent Halloween has enhanced its reputation, so much so that clamors for a sequel have grown and grown. Twenty-nine years after the original, audiences have finally got their wish with Hocus Pocus 2, which sees Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy reunite as the Sanderson sisters once again. This time around, the three witches are accidentally resurrected by high school students Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo). They then have to stop the trio from killing Mayor Traske (Tony Hale), the father of their estranged best friend Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), the direct descendant of the reverend who banished the Sandersons from Salem back in 1653. 

The opening 30 minutes of Hocus Pocus 2 are a slog to get through. Despite the presence of Hale (Arrested Development), Sam Richardson (Veep), and Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso), the comedy is trite, the teenage actors are dull, and the attempted plot is needlessly convoluted. Worst of all, though, Midler, Parker, and Najimy are completely absent. However, as soon as the trio turn up, Hocus Pocus 2 immediately becomes compelling and enjoyable. Midler in particular is utterly magnetic, but all three bounce off each other with such glee, and inject so much fun and nostalgia into the proceedings, that all of the film’s obvious flaws immediately feel trivial. PG, 103 min.