It's a mess of dark subject matter lightened by the silliest cheese factors and love and family. This movie probably shouldn't work, but it does and I love it.
THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS!!! WROUGHT WITH SPOILERS. SPOILERS VACATION HERE ON THEIR DAYS OFF.
Aunt Frances starts off filling her nieces in on the curse put on their family by matriarch Maria. "A curse on any man that dared love an Owens woman." Apparently Great Aunt Maria thought she was too good to be dumped or something. Like, thanks a lot Maria, generations of your ancestors now have to deal with the fallout of your badly handled rejection, complete with beetle infestation. You couldn't have picked up a copy of He's Just Not That Into You and jumped back on Tinder?
After losing both of her parents, finding out that anyone that loves her will tragically die and watching Crazy McSpinster Stereotype impale a bird with a needle - ten year old Sally makes the very rational decision to create a love spell for a man she believes could never exist in an attempt to never fall in love.
'He will hear my call from a mile away.
He will whistle my favorite song.
He can ride a pony backwards.
He can flip pancakes in the air.
He'll be marvelously kind.
And his favorite shape will be a star.
And he'll have one green eye,
and one blue.'
And since we are repeatedly told that Sally is a super gifted witch, I am sure that spell won't play any part in the rest of the movie....
While Sally inherited Maria's magical prowess, Gilly got Maria's ways with the fellas. Which leads her to Jimmy Angelov. The smooth-talking, Bulgarian, serial killer that falls hard for her. He
Domestic violence is no joke (neither are kidnapping and murder for that matter), and this is by far the darkest the movie tries to go. But Jimmy is so over-the-top that I can never take him seriously. And apparently, the screenwriters answer to balance out this sleeze ball is Detective Hallet. The victim of little Sally's love spell, comes to town investigating Jimmy's disappearance/murderous spree. And he is just as over-the-top as Jimmy and it's still too much. I think we are supposed to blame his strange personality traits on the spell. So that's what I do and call it a day.
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are the heart of the movie, and Sally desperately trying to save her sister is a syrupy sweet display of sisterhood, friendship and connection and hits me right in the feelings every time. But let's be real, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest STEAL THE SHOW. Franny and Jet are funny and smart and loyal and they make midnight margaritas. They stay mostly in the background and are only brought forward when the audience needs an Owens family history lesson or their nieces need witchy advice, but every time they make their way on screen it is pure magic. Pun intended. We should all be so lucky to have aunts like these two in our lives.
If you're looking for a fun, hassle-free movie experience this Halloween, put Practical Magic on the list.
Double, double, toil and trouble
The actresses that played little Jilly and Sally and the ones that played Sally's daughters look eerily, very similar to one another. In fact, there was a time when I thought that two little girls played all four roles.
Little Sally cast her flower powered love spell when she was around ten. Little Detective Hallet didn't look that old when the flowers found him. Not that it matters, but Sally is a cougar.
Two aunts, two sisters, two daughters. Coincidence? Did Sally and Jilly's mom have a sister? Was their mom a sister of Frances and Jet, making them a threesome? No wonder she died, she was the only one without a bff to lean on.
For whatever it's worth, Maria accidentally cursed the family with her bitterness. Sally accidentally called Detective Hallet to her with her love spell and letter. And I think it's possible Sally and/or Jilly accidentally cast a spell when they cut their hands. And that spell is what eventually brought Jilly home via abusive Bulgarian cowboy murder?
Little Jilly: "Is that why they wanted to hang her? Because she was a witch?"
Francis: "Well, the fact that our Aunt Maria was a bit of a heart breaker didn't help. Nor did it help that most of her lovers had wives on the hanging committee."
Francis: "In this house we have chocolate cake for breakfast."
Jet: "And we never bother with silly little things like bedtime or brushing our teeth."
Jilly: "Of course you're gonna see me again. We're gonna grow old together. It's gonna be you and me, living in a big house, these two old biddies with all these cats. I mean I bet we even die on the same day."
Aunt Frances: "My darling girl, when are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage."
Sally: "And I don't want them dancing naked under the full moon."
Aunt Jet: "No, of course. The nudity is entirely optional. As you well remember."
Gilly: "You ever put your arms out and spin really, really fast?"
Antonia: "She does it all the time."
Gilly: "She does? Well, that's what love is like. It makes your heart race. It turns the world upside down. But if you're not careful, if you don't keep your eyes on something still, you can lose your balance. You can't see what's happening to the people around you. You can't see that you're about to fall."
Sara: "I don't know about the Bulgarian, but I would not be surprised if he turned up in a ditch somewhere."
Patty: "Sara, that is not true! She's not saying they murdered him, just that maybe they shook his hand, and then... he died. It's very mysterious."
Sally: "My blood. Your blood. Our blood."