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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.39%
Worth A Look: 8.96%
Just Average: 20.9%
Pretty Crappy: 14.93%

3 reviews, 49 user ratings

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Practical Magic
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Far from bewitching."
1 stars

As if by some spell of its own, 'Practical Magic' drops out of memory, scene by scene, as you're watching it.

A calculated chick flick, it sells witchcraft as a snuggly blanket of female bonding, yet the characters' supernatural powers aren't put to much use except to attract or repel men. The fact that the two heroines are such dithering dummies certainly doesn't help. Neither does the movie's schizoid tone, which veers between tired humor (there's the obligatory dancin'-to-the-oldies scene) and bland swipes from horror films like The Exorcist and Pet Sematary.

There's a centuries-old curse on the Owens family: Every time an Owens woman falls in love with a man, he dies. (If an Owens lesbian, say, falls in love with a woman, does the curse still apply? The movie's no help on this point.) So two Owens sisters, Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman), have dealt with the curse in their own ways: Sally throws herself into blissful marriage and motherhood, while Gillian flits around from bed to bed. Will the movie be about how witchcraft has influenced the sisters to grow apart while still bonded by their common curse? Not really. Will the movie be about much of anything? Uh, no.

Sally's husband gets killed, and Gillian gets involved with some sort of deranged Transylvanian biker dude (Goran Visnjic) -- just what we always wanted: Vlad the Impaler as a toxic boyfriend. Sally raises her two little daughters with the help of her two aunts (Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest, who offer the movie's only fresh moments); Gillian tries to get away from Vlad, but the sisters realize that nothing short of drinking a belladonna cocktail will stop him. He dies and comes back and dies and comes back; sadly, the movie dies around the same time he dies the first time, except it never returns from the grave.

Literally every scripted word (by Robin Swicord, Akiva Goldsman, and Adam Brooks, from Alice Hoffman's novel) and every onscreen second (directed by Griffin Dunne) having to do with the dead-alive psycho boyfriend is ridiculous. Through circumstances too stupid to relate here, the sisters find themselves trapped in a car with the psycho; he forces Sally to drive while he terrorizes Gillian in the back seat, threatening to brand her with his ring. At one point, after they've given him some tainted vodka, he gets out of the car to take a leak -- and they sit in the car like morons and wait for him to get back in! I sat there going "Okay, why don't they just drive away? Very simple: key in the ignition; foot on the gas; bye-bye, psycho." But no, they act stupid in this scene and in many others to come.

After the psycho has been buried out in the garden, a detective (Aidan Quinn) drops by to investigate; he's been looking for the psycho, who's wanted for pretty much everything. But the sisters' stupidity must be contagious, because he wanders around looking baffled even after Sally all but confesses. Unless this is your first movie, you'll be able to guess why the detective is in the movie: he's the impossible ideal guy that the girl Sally once cast a spell for, thinking that such a man couldn't exist. One of the ideal traits she'd specified was that he have one blue eye and one green one; Aidan Quinn's eyes have always been his most striking feature, which calls all the more attention to the fact that, well, they're both blue.

Practical Magic makes no practical sense, and it pales in comparison to a truly original witch movie like George Romero's Jack's Wife (its DVD title is Season of the Witch) -- a 1972 minor masterpiece you've probably never heard of, because it doesn't wrap itself in cozy sisterhood themes and it's about something besides man trouble.

'Practical Magic' has something to annoy just about everyone: feminists of either gender, Wiccans, or just people expecting a good movie. The citizens of Salem, too, will grumble for years -- or at least until the next dumb witch movie rolls in.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=427&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/30/06 14:01:12
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User Comments

6/19/11 pwhite98270 Cute movie Sandra was the star in this one 4 stars
5/24/09 Anonymous Didn't like this movie but wanted to point out that HE TOOK THE KEYS when we went to pee. 1 stars
5/13/08 Sherrie If you have an imagination, hope in love, and love to believe, then you'll love this movie! 5 stars
12/31/06 del You all like to eat your own poop, don't you? 1 stars
10/31/05 jen gray amazing 5 stars
10/31/05 con sauer this has Sandy in it so it/s good 5 stars
1/30/05 Bonnie James I really liked thus film. 5 stars
1/17/05 Paul The actors, story, and music were superb. I've seen it 3-times and would watch it again! 5 stars
11/26/04 Jim Okay witch hijinx. Probably the last time Bullock would get billing over Kidman. 3 stars
7/06/04 Kate Movie was very interesting, would watch again. 5 stars
7/06/04 Ray Watched it a couple of times, great movie 5 stars
7/06/04 Ashley I liked the movie so much, I bought the DVD! 5 stars
7/06/04 Liz The movie was great!!! I think they need a 2nd movie. 5 stars
6/17/04 rebecca loved it 4 stars
2/21/04 LimeLight I actually really love this movie despite the comments made by most of the other reviewers. 4 stars
7/06/02 hilarydsur total crap 1 stars
5/24/02 aadd asadad 5 stars
4/03/02 cat I love this movie, me and my sister watch in all the time together. It's sweet! 5 stars
2/09/02 Shelley Howard Never before thought I could like Nicole Kidman even less than Sandra Bullock! 1 stars
11/11/01 Gracy Lionheart Boring and long...I am glad I wasn't the one who rented it. 1 stars
10/22/01 Andrew Carden I Couldn't Really Figure Out The Point To This Trash. 1 stars
7/16/01 Josh Tybur Girls not even that hot 2 stars
6/22/01 Justin Cheung Not bad, Sandra and Nicole work pretty well together, good flick 5 stars
6/13/01 Gary Bleurgh... well, Stockard Channing was funny. Kinda. 1 stars
2/13/01 Richard Wright This irredeemable piece of faectal matter deserves 2 total craps.. EVERYONE JOIN IN!! 1 stars
3/27/00 Richard Wright The worst film I have ever seen. It makes me feel physically sick just thinking about it. 1 stars
3/24/00 Lesley yeh right! 3 stars
2/05/00 Kyle Broflovski Are critics just completely eat up with the dumbass??? THIS IS KILLER!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/04/00 Nice Guy Eddie Bad acting, bad direction... and this is coming from a Bullock and Kidman fan! 1 stars
10/30/99 Lindsey This was kinda a good movie, but certainly not the greatest. 3 stars
9/24/99 JED Not a bad movie confusing but a rather bit charming film. 3 stars
8/16/99 Marshy Mixes too many styles. Kidman annoys, and Bullock sleepwalks thru. If fan of either, see it 2 stars
4/15/99 bizzy eeeewwww. barely like the book. 2 stars
4/09/99 Michael Grimm kidman and Bullock go at it!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
3/26/99 Rob Mckechnie If it wasn't for horny nicole, i would have fallen asleep in the first 5 minutes. 2 stars
2/20/99 MR HOLLYWOOD!! SANDRA BULLOCKS MOVIE,wrong director,Channing/Weist are a waste but worth it,kidman's lost. 4 stars
12/02/98 Kirgo Pointless, confused...but I really liked it, perhaps I have a brain tumor! 4 stars
11/24/98 Fred Does Bullock pick scripts by saying eenie-meenie-miny-moe? Even my date hated this one. 1 stars
11/19/98 evil buffy k, anyone who's read even part of this book would know how hard this movie sucks. 1 stars
11/12/98 Bad Kosh Totally screwed. End of story. 3 stars
10/26/98 Ashley SO Fucking awesome. After that movie I wanted to cast spells too. 5 stars
10/22/98 Jon Dye A fucking chick flick if ever there was one. 1 stars
10/21/98 Negative Creep A movie whereKidman doesnt make me puke Gotta be worth somethin Bullock stilloutclasses her 3 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz This movie was cursed with a confused script and the wrong director. 3 stars
9/28/98 Marty in St.Louis Every witch movie sucks ass 1 stars
8/27/98 Mister Whoopee Ugh. Bullock. At least she shows some emotion in this film. Too many subplots. 3 stars
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  16-Oct-1998 (PG-13)


  04-Feb-1999 (M)

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