Hocus Pocus 2

By Joanna Langfield

Thank God for Bette Midler.

This machine-like re-meet, where we eventually get together with the bewitched Sanderson Sisters of Salem, begins with a reminder of how the witches got booted out of their home to begin with. Three young girls spend what feels like an eternity screeching and then, poof, we magically are in the modern day town, hanging with the three teenage ladies who figure out a way to bring the legends back from wherever they’ve been hanging out. It’s, as the kids say, a lot.

And then the adults show up. And, tada, the movie becomes funnier, slyer, and occasionally, laugh out loud entertaining. It’s so nice to be able to count on veterans like Tony Hale, Sam Richardson and the remarkable Doug Jones, all of whom are not just game but on their game here. But, of course, they are just here for support. The real reason for this movie at all is to reunite the actresses who made the first picture, some 29 years ago. And seeing them together again is a treat, albeit a limited one. Poor Kathy Najimy isn’t given much to do except nod enthusiastically, Sarah Jessica Parker does the most she can with her few moments in the sun and  then there’s Bette Midler. I don’t know if the script or production was designed to do so, but the movie seems to shift, everybody just moving out of the way when Midler shows up. And show up she does, knowing the assignment and nailing it, in each and every scene.

Speaking of scenes, there is one worth the price of the stream. Our long tucked away ladies wind up for a few precious minutes at a Walgreens beauty aisle, where they delightedly discover all the new anti-aging potions. It’s every bit as funny as you’d hope. I just had hoped the whole movie could have been half as inspired and fun.