It's always a relief when a sequel doesn't let down the legions of fans of a cult original, and in this case, the new film surpasses its predecessor in entertainment value.
Hocus Pocus 2 plays to its followers with some references to the 1993 original, but you certainly don't have to have seen that film to enjoy this one, and the addition of modern-day teenagers could help draw in new followers.
They might appreciate the feminist undertones, the dull-witted football boyfriend (deemed the "village idiot" by the Sandersons), and the present-day jokes involving technology like Alexa, Roomba, and the gazillion elixirs of the "youth and beauty industry."
But the real star here is Midler. She corrals her clueless sisters and steals the spotlight at every turn. "I bet you're looking for a stage," a character asks her as the sisters stumble upon a drag costume contest of, you got it, the Sanderson Sisters. "Always," she purrs, before breaking into song and dance and hypnotizing the townspeople into a zombie-like flash mob to do her bidding.
This film tones down some of the cringier aspects of the original (like Parker's dumb blonde act), but keeps the camp, and even adds a touchingly emotional farewell (again, via Midler).
And somehow, these "gothic Golden Girls" still look the same as they did 29 years ago. The blood of children must really work.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Disney+.