Sisters Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) have a special bond with each other despite being different in personality and outlook. Having grown up with their spinster Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest) in the long time Owens family house on an island off the coast of Massachusetts following the death of their father and then their mother, they are the latest in a long line of witches. Rumors of the Owens women being witches have existed for generations in the small close-minded town in which they live, despite there being no hard evidence. The Owens women are also under a curse that any man with who they fall in love is doomed. With this experience, extroverted Gillian decides to leave the island to live life to the fullest, in the process, falling for Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic), a Bulgarian who grew up near Transylvania. More introspective Sally, who has sworn off the use of magic except in its most practical sense, has taken ...Written by
The line where Clara, played by Chloe Webb, states that she'd been strung out over a guy before is likely a nod to her previous role of Nancy Spungen in Sid & Nancy, a very tumultuous relationship indeed. See more »
When the sisters cut their hands, Gillian hugs Sally and puts her hand flat on Sally's back. When she moves her hand there is no blood on the robe. See more »
Aunt Frances Owens:
For more than 200 years we Owens women have been blamed by everything that's ever gone wrong in this town.
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I hate using labels like "chick flick", but one look at the IMDb voting demographics shows that this is literally a chick flick. As of the time I'm writing this, females rate it nearly 2 points higher than males, and in the under 18 group it's even more exaggerated.
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.
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