First Impressions: Hocus Pocus (1993)

Joyeux fête d’Halloween, mes amis! And welcome to my very first First Impressions review of Kenny Ortega’s 1993 Halloween comedy, Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy.

Previous Knowledge of the Film: I might have seen a clip or two years ago, but I was too busy trying to figure out what was up with Midler’s dentures to pay attention to the plot. This series got started because my coworker, A., was scandalized that I had not seen it. So this review is for her.

Recap: On Halloween night, Max, the new kid in Salem, Massachusetts, accidentally resurrects the three witchy Sanderson sisters, who seek to steal the souls of little children to make themselves immortal.

First Impressions:

  1. I was always told that running away from your problems won’t solve them, but in this movie, it seems like a lot of Max, Dani, and Allison’s problems could be solved by running away. Seriously, they just stand there when there are three bloodthirsty witches riding brooms and coming to kill them!! They could have avoided capture so many times if they had just remembered they had mobile legs. I can’t count the number of times I screamed at the TV, “RUN! RUN! GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
  2. Is this the movie that got Parker the role of Carrie Bradshaw?
  3. Emily is the most useless character in the film. Unless Winifred, Mary, and Sarah put her in a trance, which is never indicated, no little kid would be that obedient when his or her life is being threatened.
  4. Dani is my new favorite little sister from popular culture. She’s cute, funny, sassy, and quite perceptive. She annoys and embarrasses her brother, but she doesn’t annoy the audience like so many younger sibling characters do. And the relationship between her and Max is sweet and surprisingly believable. She’s easily the best child character in the film.
  5. Midler is the reigning queen of all things campy and awesome. “I Put a Spell on You” is the best part of the whole movie, in my opinion. Even better than “Come Little Children.” I don’t understand why they gave that song to Parker when they had Bette Midler as their lead actress. That’s like casting Broadway veteran Jonathan Groff in Frozen and giving him a throwaway one-minute musical segway. Oh well, Midler’s song is the one I’ve had on repeat since seeing this movie, not Parker’s.
  6. Max and Allison are pretty boring as characters and as a couple. Max is the fast-talking moronic dweeb who tries to put on a tough act and fails miserably. Allison is your basic 90’s pretty girl with no backstory, no character development, and who only exists as a prize for the hero. Been there, seen that. I’d have liked to see a little more depth in these two, especially since Dani is such a great character, but this movie really isn’t about the kids; it’s about the witches.
  7. … Are you sure this is a children’s movie?
  8. Was there an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie dated a NYC bus driver and he let her sit on his lap while she drove the bus around the city on a romantic date? Because it would be just as weird as it is in this movie.
  9. OK. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS MOVIE’S OBSESSION WITH MAX’S VIRGINITY. The constant jokes about this are creepy and totally unnecessary. Why is this point so important aside from the virgin-lighting-the-black-candle thing? We can guess that Max is probably younger than 16 because he doesn’t have a learner’s permit. So why does this movie make fun of a very young teenage boy who’s still a virgin? Is it supposed to embarrass Max in front of Allison? Does that make him less attractive or more attractive in her eyes? Are we supposed to infer that Allison is not a virgin? Why does this matter? Is this what casual sexism looked like in 1993? I need answers!
  10. I know that everyone usually talks about SJP and Midler, but I’d like to see more of Najimy’s work. As she’s mostly done television, that would mean me watching a lot of stuff that I haven’t seen but everyone else has … Oh, wait.

Final Thoughts: It’s easy to see why this movie has such a nostalgic value to it. It’s clearly a product of the ’90s, when children’s movies showed all their adult characters in a ridiculous and idiotic light and the children outsmarted the adults in childish, slapsticky ways. This movie was released the year after I was born, and I never saw it growing up, so it doesn’t have the same sense of nostalgia for me that it has for many people. However, Hocus Pocus was a ton of fun to watch and I liked it despite its many flaws. On the Worth Meter, I give it a Worth Owning Used.

Hope you enjoyed this review! For next time, the theme is: Love Stories. Please leave a comment below with your vote. One vote per person, please.

  1. Amélie (2001)
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  3. The English Patient (1996)

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Halloween!

“I put a spell on yooo-hoooo and noooooooooooow you’re mine!”

À la prochaine!

– Vicky

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First Impressions: An Introduction

Bonjour, mes amis!

Today is the beginning of an all-new series on this blog and I’m so excited to share it with you.

I love movies. I love talking about movies, watching movies, and binge-watching movie reviews on YouTube way more than television. That’s not to say that TV can’t be good or enjoyable, but I personally can’t make the commitment to sit down at the same time every week to watch the next episode or spend an entire weekend watching a whole series on Netflix. The only reason I still have Netflix is for the instant streaming movies and DVD delivery. I would rather watch a whole story completed in two and a half hours as opposed to several seasons of 60-minute morsels. But that’s just me.

I’ve seen a lot of movies over the past 23 years, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (Actually, I haven’t seen that one.) However, whenever I talk about movies, there’s a good chance that someone will bring up a really popular movie that I haven’t seen. And when I reveal that I have not seen said movie, this person’s reaction runs along the lines of “WHAAAT?! HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE? HOW ARE YOU STILL CONSIDERED A HUMAN?! PUT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE ON HOLD BECAUSE YOU NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW!”

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of beloved and popular movies that I had not seen up until 2014 or so: Naked Gun. Spaceballs. A Christmas Story. Clueless. (500) Days of Summer. Enchanted. A Muppet Christmas Carol.

See my point?

In an effort to shorten my Netflix queue, I present “First Impressions,” a series in which I will write short reviews of popular movies that I somehow missed. These might be scattered thoughts or full-blown analyses, but I will try to keep them under 200 words. For a rating system, I’ll be using the Worth Meter used by YouTubers like Matt Guion, found here. Then, I will present three choices for my next review, and YOU, my beloved readers, will vote on which movie I just have to see next.

This idea was partly inspired by a conversation with a coworker, who was horrified that I had somehow missed a certain Halloween classic.

Therefore, my first review will be of the trippiest, scariest movie to came out of 1993: Hocus Pocus.

À bientôt! 

– Vicky

Hundred Word Review: “The Cupcake Queen” by Heather Hepler

Challenge No. 6: A Book From an Author You Love But Haven’t Read Yet

“The Cupcake Queen,” by Heather Hepler, finished May 26. Hepler co-wrote one of my all-time favorite YA novels, “Scrambled Eggs at Midnight,” with Brad Barkley, and I was so excited to read her first solo novel. Also, who doesn’t want to read a book about cupcakes?!

cupcakequeen

Hundred Word Review: Penny is dragged along when her mother returns to her small hometown and opens a cupcake shop, leaving Penny’s father and Manhattan behind. In between cake decorating and homesickness, Penny makes new friends, daydreams about the enigmatic boy in her art class, and becomes the target of the class mean girl’s vendetta. This coming-of-age novel reminds me of, well, a cupcake. Your adult brain says you’re too old to enjoy it; however, after one bite, you realize it has substance and sweetness, sass and sincerity. Fourteen-year-old me would love this book; for twenty-three-year-old me, it satisfied her literary sweet tooth.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Also, for a sneak peek at upcoming Hundred Word Reviews, click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Next up … we shall see!

Happy reading!

-Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle

Challenge No. 4: A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit

“A Year in Provence,” by Peter Mayle, finished May 3. It’s set in France. Of course I want to go there.

Hundred Word Review: In the late 1980s, Peter Mayle and his wife, Jennie, left the corporate rat race of England behind and bought a 200-year-old farmhouse in the sprawling countryside of Provence. This memoir details their first year in the village of Ménerbes, where they encounter bitter winter winds, moochy summer tourists, and laissez-faire construction workers. But there’s also mouthwatering regional cuisine, interesting new friends, and stunning scenery. It’s clear why this book is a classic piece of travel writing. If you love France, food, and richly detailed, funny writing, gobble this book up and wash it down with a glass of rosé.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a nonfiction book.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Confessions” by Saint Augustine

Challenge No. 3: A Book with A One-Word Title

“Confessions” by Saint Augustine, translated by Garry Wills, finished April 23. I know I said I would do the one with nonhuman characters next, but it got complicated.

augustine

Hundred Word Review: Augustine of Hippo’s testimony is a staple in Catholic literature. Born in Africa in 354, he became a celebrated orator and conceited playboy. His mother, Saint Monica, prayed to the point of suffering for years for his conversion to Catholicism. Finally, Augustine became a Doctor of the Church in the ultimate come-to-Jesus story. Every Christian needs to get their hands on this book, but don’t expect to read it in a week. Beneath all of Augustine’s rich language and profound philosophy are moments that make you say, “That’s so me.” Take your time with this book. It’s well worth it.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “The Man Who Was Thursday” by G.K. Chesterton

Challenge No. 2: A Book a Friend Recommended

“The Man Who Was Thursday” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton, finished January 28. Recommended by my brilliant friend and college roommate, Katie.

man-who-was-thursday

Hundred Word Review: Gabriel Syme, an undercover policeman, meets a young poet who promises a “very entertaining evening.” Before he knows it, he is elected to an elite anarchist council and given the name Thursday. In trying to overthrow the fearsome leader, Sunday, Syme meets unsuspected allies and new enemies in a wild chase of gunpowder, treason, and plot. This book makes your brain hurt, but it’s so fun to read! It’s scary, suspenseful, and hilarious with a mind-blowing twist. If anything, read it for the insults: “If you’d take your head home and boil it for a turnip, it might be useful.”

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book with nonhuman characters.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay

One of our recent assignments for Blogging 101 was to try a new type of post. I’ve been wanting to do reviews on this blog for a while, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. With the dawn of a new year, and me taking on PopSugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge, I’ve decided to post my reviews of the books I’m reading in 100 words or fewer. Obviously, this introduction doesn’t count.

Challenge No. 1: A Book You Can Finish in a Day

“Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay, finished January 3.

sarahskey

Hundred Word Review: On July 16, 1942, 10-year-old Sarah is awoken by French police coming to arrest her family. She locks her little brother in the cupboard for safekeeping, thinking she’ll return soon. Sixty years later, an American journalist learns Sarah’s story while researching the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, when more than 13,000 French Jews were sent to Nazi death camps. I finished this book in less than five hours. It combines many of my favorite subjects — France, journalism, history — and tells two equally gripping stories. Sarah and Julia are beautifully written, unforgettable protagonists. This is a must-read for francophiles and history buffs alike.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book a friend recommended.”

Happy reading!

Vicky