Practical Magic
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -2

With Halloween drawing near, it's not surprising that Hollywood has inflicted another movie on us featuring witches. But the producers of PRACTICAL MAGIC have selected two very popular and competent actresses to head up the cast. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play two sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens, who have been born into a family of witches. And they carry a curse, which results in the deaths of Sally's husband and Gillian's boyfriend, who Gillian and Sally must kill in self-defense. But her boyfriend's spirit returns from the dead to possess Gillian's body. When law enforcement officer Gary Hallet (Adian Quinn) arrives on the scene to investigate the murder, it looks like he may be the next victim because he's attracted to Sally. How Sally and Gillian deal with their occultic powers, curses and dilemmas makes for a rather intense, but sometimes comical adventure. This film is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but turns out primarily to be a dark, foreboding struggle with occultic curses and forces. Still, the appeal of Bullock and Kidman will help it at the box office.

The key question in evaluating films with occultic phenomena is whether the occult is portrayed as evil and something to be avoided, or presents it in a lighthearted manner and even develops sympathy for those who practice it. In PRACTICAL MAGIC, the story does some of both, but more often treats witchcraft as comical and exciting and sympathizes with those who practice it. Sally does try to avoid using her powers and shield her two daughters from the occult, but she resorts to using her powers in emergencies and even lets her children help prepare magical potions. One particularly wrenching scene shows a group of women, including Sally and her two aunts who are witches, exorcising and destroying the evil spirit who has taken possession of Gillian's body. Particularly disappointing, Sally, Gillian and their aunts never decisively renounce their witchcraft. And some foul language is included in the dialogue, including several obscenities and some profanities. So this portrayal of witches and occultic powers earns a negative rating.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Distributor: Warner Brothers, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

Crude Language: Several (6) times - Mild 4, Moderate 2
Obscene Language: Several (8) times - S word 6, Other 2
Profanity: Several (6) times - Regular 3 (GD), Exclamatory 3 (OMG, OG)
Violence: Many times - Moderate (Children throw rocks at girls, women cut their hands, man hit and killed by truck, woman beaten - not shown, women kidnapped, man and women hand fight, man hit and killed with skillet, man hit in stomach, woman strikes another woman)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Near Nudity - Once (Woman seen in bra in kissing scene)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times - Comical remark about sex, passionate kissing and groping in bedroom scene, suggestive dancing, store sells love potion
Drug Abuse: Several times - Man and women drink liquor, drunkenness, man drugged, woman smokes frequently
Other: Witch levitates objects, cast spells, jumps off roof uninjured, magically stirs coffee, communicates telepathically; evil spirit possesses woman, evil spirit exorcised, man urinates on street
Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Teenagers and Adults

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