Practical Magic
Rating -

Romance (US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 103 Minutes

Sandra Bullock: Sally Owens
Nicole Kidman: Gilliam Owens
Dianne West: Aunt Jet
Stockard Channing: Aunt Frances
Adian Quinn: Fary Hallet
Goran Visnjic: Jimmy Angelov

Produced by Bruce Berman, Denise Di Novi, Mary McLaglen and Robin Swicord; Directed by Griffin Dunne; Screenwritten by Alice Hoffman, Robin Swicord, Akira Goldsman and Adam Brooks

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Childish movies show up around this time of year. It’s that time of year when Halloween approaches, and Hollywood still thinks that something based on this supernatural stuff will be a correct way to open up to October 31. It’s the movie that attempts to bring comedy and fright into the same subject. And what’s even more strange is that most of them are about witches; teenage witches, dumb witches, blond witches; witches that want to have sex—there are so many of these things out there that, if I count my estimate, they show up every year around this time. I’m sick of it.

This year, “Practical Magic” held onto that notion. It’s a movie of both childish and frightening aspects, though in different forms than you might expect. The childish level is what we as the adults think of the movie, and the fright is what children will likely find when they attend it. So, with both of those parties canceled out, what are we left with? What audience will it be taken in by? What does that leave? Not much.

This time around, the witch movie deals with witches either on the verge of or wanting to fall in love or already in love. In their family, such a thing is outlawed, and we get the impression (okay they tell us) that love is a curse. Actually, marriage is the curse. When a femal family member gets married and she’s a witch, they hear this sound (sort of like a beetle, I guess) that’s supposed to signify the death of their husband.

This is where the fun stops—ten minutes after the movie starts. In one scene, you see, we find Sandra Bullock’s character, Sally, happily married. When she hears the sound of the beetle (if it is a beetle) under the floor, she begins removing the floor boards to find him. According to the movie, if the beetle is killed, her husband will live.

This sequence is the perfect example of the violation of unqualified searches in the movies. When one has searched for something in over half of the places available to look, and it still hasn’t showed up, it’s best to stop right there, because you’ll likely find it in the last place you look, and by that point it may be already too late to save it. Sally searches all of her boards, and this process takes minutes of wasted time.

But the movie makes more violations than that—they are too numerous to count, in fact. I honestly don’t know what the points to these movies are, other than to try and get people to understand something involving witchcraft. The movie demonstrates it a lot, but most of it looks fake and obviously, it is nothing real. But of course, this is a childish sitcom-like movie. Would film makers have it any other way?

© 1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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