Austin Parks Foundation: Movies in the Park:
Chock-full of visual tricks and treats, Hocus Pocus is actually just what its title implies -- cinematic chimera without much substance. Replete with the close, shadowy textures of 17th-century Salem, the opening scenes are enchanting. It is here we first encounter the Sanderson sisters. Then the story switches to modern-day Salem with all the trappings of the Nineties, movie-style, and that means plenty of cute, snappy wordplay (sexual innuendo), a plucky young heroine (precocious brat), a talking cat (why couldn't he talk in 1793?…), and a swaggering villain (hip-hop bully whose vocabulary consists of the words “duh” and “dude”). Midler gives her considerable all to the role, and both Najimy and Parker are fun to watch. But the sets, costumes and choreography are the real stars of this show. And the movement! Whether flying, cringing, or circling gleefully around the cauldron, the witches move and speak in mesmerizing, intricate, sisterly union. Unfortunately, sets, costumes and choreography do not a movie make. And for all its artful, high-flying sorcery, Hocus Pocus cannot escape the irons of an all too pedestrian plotline. Read a full review of Hocus Pocus.