Practical Magic

22  JAN
For two sisters from a family of witches, falling in love is the trickiest spell of all.

Directed by  Griffin Dunne
Written by  Alice Hoffman, Robin Swicord, Akiva Goldsman, Adam Brooks
Starring:  Sandra Bullock (Sally Owens)
Nicole Kidman (Gillian Owens)
Stockard Channing (Aunt Frances)
Dianne Wiest (Aunt Jet)
Aidan Quinn (Gary Hallet)
Goran Visnjic (Jimmy Angelov)
Runtime: 103 minutes

One thing I hate is to see a movie that is not only awful but also 'insignificant', in the sense that nobody will remember it a few months after its release. Unfortunately, this is the case of Practical Magic, whose only reason to be seen is for the two famous actresses, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, although I doubt they'll ever be mentioned for this faint movie.

Sally and Gillian Owens are the offspring of a family of witches. They are able to perform various spells but they are also doomed by a curse: all the men involved with them are going to die very soon. Their attitude and their experience with this curse is completely different, Sally gets married while Gillian chooses a less conventional and rather licentious life. Their troubles finally brings them together again after Gillian's boyfriend is killed and the police starts investigating...

The movie follows a rather pragmatic story-line, starting in the past when witches were killed by the angry mob and jumping quickly to our days with the two sisters learning simple spells from their old aunts. However, the movie soon turns into a sort of boring video-clip with long periods of music accompanying pointless shots of the two actresses walking in the town, dancing, etc. During various moments of boredom, I started wondering where the movie was going to head, given the completely uninteresting story that was slowly unfolding.

As soon as something actually happens and the story should arouse attention, everything becomes absolutely predictable and hence remains boring and hardly interesting. Even the characters are not charming at all, apart from the old aunts that have a rather marginal role. This all results in an always increasing dullness which leaves more and more time to the audience to find annoying points and pushing only to hope that the movie will end soon!

The only positive notes are a few small entertaining moments, usually based on the magical abilities of the two main characters, such as the spoon that keeps spinning in the cup even after Sandra Bullock stops holding it. Unfortunately, for every well made 'episode', there are a lot of missed opportunities and a similar number of details that doesn't convince at all. The ending is a perfect example of both, it missed the chance to give a coherent conclusion (to a disjointed movie!) and also featured an unlikely comical/horror scene that simply didn't work.

When the movie is finished, you end up wondering how to categorize it into a genre. Is it a romantic story? An horror? A movie about relationship between people? A dark comedy? A funny supernatural tale? Unfortunately, the answer is that it is a bit of all these (and other) genres, but none of these features are developed enough nor their mixing is particularly well made. The resulting 'potion' is both ineffective and indigestible.

Rating: 5.2  *

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999