Reviews since 1993: A-E F-N O-Z Posters Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do Search the Site
Now in Release
DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
IN SHORT: Star Power stuff and nonsense of Date Flick heaven.
In trying so hard to convince us that "witches are people too" Practical Magic, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, flings out too many stories on too many emotional levels that Cranky couldn't focus on any given one as the point of the flick. A story of sisters protecting each other; A story of a family curse; A story of a murderous lover and the police investigator tracking him and the ancient love spell that's really the impetus behind everything. This must have been a gripping novel, 'cuz the adaptation reeks of "a pinch of this ... a pinch of that".
Only the star power of its principals keeps it interesting. Then again, I'd rather watch Sandra Bullock juggle too many stories, than shift in my seat bored out of my skull at a traditional chick flick, which PM is not. What it is is a feather light and, for the most part, tremendously amusing and gentle tale of two sisters and the curse that binds them.
Practical Magic begins in flashback, with the history of the Owens family and its Curse. Simply put, any man that an Owens woman falls for, body and soul, will die prematurely. When the curse strikes a modern day Owens momma, she leaves her daughters Gillian and Sally in the care of a pair of old maid aunts, Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest) and promptly vanishes from the story. The kidlets learn to exercise their powers and grow closer as they are tormented by the children of the town.
Sally (Sandra Bullock) doesn't believe in curses and falls head over heels, marries and moves across town to raise her two daughters. When the Curse strikes, Sally turns her back on her powers and decides that her children will never be taught The Way. But she moves back in with her witch aunts, anyways.
Gillian (Nicole Kidman) prefers to take the free and easy route, traveling through the country picking up men left and right, until she lands with the wrong one, an abuser and (we shall learn) serial killer named Jimmy (Goran Visnjic), who brands his victims before he kills them.
A desperate call for help brings Sally and Gillian back together. The sisters "take care" of the problem all by themselves, but they find the spirits of the dead are hard to keep down. When police investigator Gary Hallett (Aidan Quinn), bearing all the marks of the love spell Sally cast 20 years earlier, shows up and starts asking questions you could just roll over and die from the overload of story input.
Cranky guesses that the book was packed with story, all of which the screenwriters have tried to stuff onto the screen. Director Griffin Dunne tries to link stories and character development by dropping at least 4 substantial music video type bits into the film, and it's all very pleasant but not that fulfilling.
The personal stories of the sisters will appeal to the ladies. The knockout visages of Bullock and Kidman will appeal to the gents. There is nothing scary about witchcraft in this flick and you'll probably walk out of the theater holding hands and commenting about the Wizard of Oz tribute that flashes by quickly.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Practical Magic, he would have paid . . .
Practical Magic is a pleasant Date flick.
The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995 - 2015 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, ™ their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.