Practical Magic

“Curses only have power when you believe them. And I don’t.”

Griffin Dunne directs Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Aidan Quinn, Goran Visnjic, and Evan Rachel Wood in this mixed genre film based on Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel of the same name.

Set in New England, but filmed in Washington, Dunne tries to stir his cauldron with comedy, drama, thrills, and romance, but never really forms a good mix as the female characters with witchcraft power must adapt in a modern world.

The cast is talented, but even with flashbacks and some character background, the adapted screenplay disappoints with an uneven story involving curses and cover-ups with cardboard character development and very underdeveloped romantic relationships. These constant shifts in tone ultimately lead to satisfying, but unoriginal resolutions. The shifts also make an unpredictable plot that will satisfy an audience’s desire for originality.

Supernatural elements permeate through each character’s relationship as the story centers on the sister duo of Sally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) Owens. Sally is recently widowed while Gillian is in a troubled relationship with Jimmy (Visnjic). Sally’s elder daughter Kylie (Evan) resembles Gillian.

These sisters get some support from their Aunt Frances (Channing) and Bridget, a.k.a. Jet (Wiest) while the story escalates and eventually involves an investigator (Quinn). The local neighbors react to all these family events in various ways and they’re generally stereotyped as small-minded people making uneducated judgments of the Owens family mainly due to fear of their powers.

The musical score actually includes two works. Alan Silvestri’s score replaced Michael Nyman’s after a last minute change. Songs from Stevie Nicks, Marvin Gaye, Faith Hill, Joni Mitchell, and Elvis Presley enhance this below average film.

Not recommended (*1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for some violence, intense thematic elements, and sensuality.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

This entry was posted in 1990s Film Reviews, Film Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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