Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews: Has This New Disney+ Sequel Put A Spell On Critics?

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are reunited in this long-awaited follow-up to the Halloween classic.
Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus 2
Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus 2

As September draws to a close, the beginning of spooky season is officially upon us, and what better way to mark the occasion than with the arrival of a long-awaited follow-up to one of the most popular Halloween films of all time?

First teased last year, Hocus Pocus 2 is finally available to stream on Disney+, reuniting Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the iconic Sanderson sisters in a brand new adventure.

The question is, has this sequel managed to put a spell on critics? Well… partly.

Reviews for the new film – released just shy of 30 years after the original film – have proved to be pretty mixed, with some hailing it as a worthy successor, and other criticising it as another by-the-numbers Disney sequel.

The original film's central trio have all returned for the sequel
The original film's central trio have all returned for the sequel
via Associated Press

However, even the more scathing reviews have praised the film’s central trio, noting that seeing Winnie, Sarah and Mary Sanderson back to their old tricks alone makes it worth a stream.

And yes, there are musical numbers, too.

Here’s a selection of what critics have had to say about Hocus Pocus 2…

“Basically a retread of the same kind of situations and ideas as the original… this long-gestating follow-up offers no surprises but still succeeds because of the same deliciously evil trio whose sister act still has pizazz and even some heart along the way.

“Without Midler, Parker and Najimy returning, there would be no reason to watch, but their all-pro instincts keep this afloat and ultimately worth the new trip back to Salem.”

“Hocus Pocus 2 successfully does what many delayed sequels fail to do: capture the magic of the original, without feeling like a hackneyed facsimile meant to placate. The balance between nostalgia and newness is always a hard one to achieve, but the creators of the sure-to-be-beloved sequel have struck gold.”

Hocus Pocus 2 has been released almost 30 years after its predecessor
Hocus Pocus 2 has been released almost 30 years after its predecessor
via Associated Press

“While its new sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, may be a blatant attempt by Disney to continue propping up its streaming platform Disney+ [...] it manages to capture the same hokey magic of the original while creatively updating its humour.”

“Hocus Pocus 2 isn’t completely spellbinding – Ted Lasso‘s Hannah Waddingham deserves more screen time as a majestic Mother Witch, and a couple of the new teen characters are underwritten. But this thoroughly enjoyable film succeeds in offering a knowing (but not too knowing) spin on the campy original.”

“The main reason to watch the sequel is to be reunited with Midler, Najimy, and Parker, who reprise their roles with vigor, and thoughtful adjustments […] Hocus Pocus 2 trades deeply on that nostalgia, riding high off the goodwill of seeing those actors in their beloved witchy garb again. Though it doesn’t steer close to the campy magic of the original, that’s as good a reason as any to return to Salem.”

One senses all involved trying to re-create the earlier film’s sense of camp. Hocus Pocus 2 is actually the better made film, even if it amounts to little more than a stealth remake.”

There isn’t a lot that can go wrong when you put three fabulous character actresses onscreen together… but you have to give them a little something to work with. Hocus Pocus 2 — the sequel to one of the most beloved Halloween comedies of all time — didn’t even have to be very good to get people to watch it. Anyone who grew up in the ’90s watches the original at least once in October.

“This year, the fun continues with a totally satisfactory sequel that brings the Sanderson sisters back to life one more time. OK, so the plot is basically the same and the jokes mere updates to the original. Why mess with a good thing when you can simply recreate it?”

“Hocus Pocus 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the original Disney film, honours its history without knowing quite how to move beyond it [...] Recycled plot points, jaunts down memory lane and knowing winks at the broader fandom are rolled into the type of sleek CGI package that’s typical of Disney offerings these days. The result is a thin but satisfactory piece of entertainment.”

“This kind of movie hardly needs to reinvent the cauldron, representing more of a cut-and-paste job. To its credit, the film still manages to be clever about weaving in callbacks to the original, like the trio’s goofy synchronised walk, without overdoing them.”

“Midler, Najimy and especially Parker gave a needed spark to the mediocre original that’s missing in the sequel, an accursed undertaking that lacks any of the spell it cast on nostalgic fans.”

“Sure, seeing Midler, Parker and Najimy again is nice. They’re amusing as ever — especially Midler, whose eyebrows are Olympic athletes. However, the effect of slapping them in a broad comedy with a threadbare plot is actually far less funny than the original. Often, they’re just awkwardly debasing themselves.”

“Like many fan favourite follow-ups, Hocus Pocus 2 is stuck, trapped somewhere between different times, audiences and tones, trying to do so much yet, in this instance, achieving so very little… This coming Halloween, it’s likely that many families will be watching Hocus Pocus 2 together, excited by the prospect of a tradition shift. Next Halloween, I doubt they’ll be watching it again.”

“The sequel brings back the witches in an adventure that promises to ramp up the fun, magic, and music. Unfortunately, Hocus Pocus 2, which does have its fun moments, can’t compare to the original film and lacks proper character development.”

“The problem with nostalgia sequels is they retrace their predecessors’ footprints so studiously that it’s impossible to separate them. Not that Hocus Pocus 2’s target audience of 12 and under will necessarily care. And as a family entertainment, the sequel is not without its charms, cursed or otherwise.”

“To be fair, it could be worse. But in shedding the original’s director, peppering the Salem scenery with CGI that looks garish instead of kitschy, and reuniting the oft-impersonated witch trio nearly 30 years later, something was bound to get lost. You can’t brew the same potion twice.”

Hocus Pocus 2 is available to stream now on Disney+.

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