Two witch sisters, raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town, face closed-minded prejudice and a curse which threatens to prevent them ever finding lasting love.Two witch sisters, raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town, face closed-minded prejudice and a curse which threatens to prevent them ever finding lasting love.Two witch sisters, raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town, face closed-minded prejudice and a curse which threatens to prevent them ever finding lasting love.
Well I'm a guy, and I dug it. If you're flexible enough to appreciate the macho man cheesiness of "Commando" (like Arnold Schwarzenegger riding on the landing gear of a Boeing 747) as well as the chick flick cheesiness of "Pretty Woman" (like Richard Gere riding on the sunroof of a white limo) ...both of which are equal in amounts of cheese but from different perspectives... then I think you can have a fun time watching "Practical Magic". Why? Because it seems to hit us with both extremes.
On the surface, the story seems to be brewing a sinister dark comedy: the Owens women just can't seem to keep men long before they kick the bucket. Tons of potential for a slightly demented "Beetlejuice" kinda story, or even "Heathers". But instead of going in that direction (i.e. treating death as crazy joke), "Practical Magic" takes it quite seriously and is not afraid to get pretty sentimental on the subject. In other words, it takes a very morbid "guy flick" story but treats it with "chick flick" sensitivity.
And that's just the beginning. We haven't gotten to the other dark themes of wife beating, alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, murder and re-murder. So, you ask, if it has all these disturbing themes and refuses to make light of them, how the heck can this be a comedy? The answer is that the leading ladies, not just Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman but also their crazy aunts played by Stockard Channing and Diane Wiest, act their roles with playful humor and endearing wit. It reminded me a little of "Sex and the City", the way the stories can be downright upsetting, but the humor comes in the way the characters behave despite it all. "Practical Magic" doesn't rely on a silly story for its laughs but instead lets the acting pave the way for levity.
Roger Ebert gave this movie a mostly negative review, saying "the movie doesn't seem sure what tone to adopt, veering uncertainly from horror to laughs to romance." But I think Ebert failed to see that the film's charm is the fact that the characters can indulge in laughs and romance *despite* the horror.
Ebert also criticized: "'Practical Magic' is too scary for children and too childish for adults. Who was it made for?" The answer is it's made for adults who can indulge in childishness. Basically if you get the gist of my review, it's the idea that this film is an unexpected blend of opposites. I have to admit it caught me off guard for a while, but I eventually figured out the rhythm and had a fun ride.
Do NOT expect a sinister, dark comedy. Do NOT expect a totally light-hearted silly romp either. The best way I can describe it would be to compare it to some of the 80s horror-comedies like "Fright Night", "Vamp" or even "Gremlins" but with a dash of "Thelma & Louise". Throw em all together in a giant cauldron and have some fun.
- Jan 22, 2014