Friday, February 20, 2015

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Practical Magic
Director: Griffin Dunne 
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Diane Wiest, Goran Visnjic, Aidan Quinn, Evan Rachel Wood
Released: October 16, 1998

This is based on a novel by Alice Hoffman. I figured the novel must be much better and more fleshed out than the movie since a lot happens in the film but is quickly glossed over, so I was sure that the book must go more in depth, which I'm sure it does, but when I was reading reviews of it on Goodreads, I was surprised that many people said that the movie was better than the book. Because the movie really isn't that great. It's not sure if it wants to be a comedy or a romance or a dark supernatural it's a bit of a trifecta of all three. 

Sally and Gillian Owens (Bullock and Kidman) are sisters who are witches. Just like Sabrina (heh!), they are raised by their aunts, Frances and Bridget (Channing and Weist). Older sister Sally is the more practical one while Gillan is the free-spirit. At a young age, the girls learn of the curse that has overshadowed their family for decades: any man who falls in love with someone in their family is doomed to die. Now that's something you don't want to reveal on the first date! Sensitive Sally is horrified by this news and casts a spell on herself so she will only fall in love with a certain type of man who is seemingly too good to be true that there is no chance he can even exist. Gillian, however, is not phased at all by this and can't wait to fall in love, or, to be more accurate, sleep around.

When the girls become young adults, Gillian goes on her way to start her tour of having love affairs and breaking hearts. Sally stays back with her aunts in their small town. One days she sees a good-looking man walking down the street and smiles at him. A few minutes later we see them running towards each other and embracing and the next thing we know they are married and have kids. Well, shocker of all shocks, we come to find out her aunts saw she liked him and put a love spell on both of them so they would fall in love. (You could say she drank some Love Potion #9! Yes, I went old-school Sandy Bullock reference for that!) There must be some unwritten prophecy that every Owens woman must have two daughters: one brunette and one redhead with bangs. Because Sally and her husband have two girls who fit this description as well. A young Evan Rachel Wood plays her daughter with the red hair. At first I was confused and thought she was supposed to be Gillian's daughter because she looked so much like her! 

The curse still holds and Sally's husband is killed. It is the most unbelievable death. First, it was laughable because we are meant to think he is going to be killed by being run over by cyclists (he's out in the street during a bike marathon or something), but then we see that he is hit by a car even though he had already been in the middle of the street, frozen as the cyclists go around him. Obviously the car saw there was a person standing in the middle of the road and had plenty of time to slow down. It was just so stupid. But he dies and is never spoken of again. 

Gillian has fallen victim to an abusive man, Jimmy (Goran Visnjic), who likes to drink a little too much. When she becomes scared, she calls Sally to come get her. Jimmy ends up kidnapping both of them and only wanting to drug him, Sally gives him a sleeping potion, but it ends up killing him. The sisters freak out because they don't want to be put away for murder, so they take him back to their house where they will perform a simple resurrection spell, which, if we've learned anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is NEVER a good idea! (Unless you die of a supernatural death, of course! And even that is never a good idea.) This involves having to draw a star on the deceased's stomach and Sally uses a can of Reddi-Whip to do that which is hilarious. And I love that she dips her finger in the whipped cream and licks it off. As soon as Zombie Jimmy is alive again, he immediately starts to choke Gillian and Sally hits him with a frying pan, killing him...again. They bury him in their backyard.

A detective named Gary (Aidan Quinn) from Jimmy's hometown comes up to inspect Jimmy's disappearance and is wary of the sisters. Turns out Gary has all the qualities that young Sally wished in the man she could never fall in love with. He can flip pancakes! He has one blue eye and one green eye! His favorite shape is a star because he has a badge shaped like one! I don't want to spoil anything by saying they get together in the end...but guess what? They fall in love!

Jimmy's spirit has possessed the body of Gillian and Sally and her aunts hold an exorcism to get rid of it. In order to do this, there must be a circle with a certain amount of people so they have to invite other women from their small town to help them. Margo Martindale plays one of those women who works at the apothecary shop Sally owns and runs.

The director, Griffin Dunne, is probably most recognized for his acting roles. He played Vada's poetry teacher in My Girl and played a judge on an early season of The Good Wife. 

The best thing about this movie was that the small town scenes were filmed in Whidbey Island, Washington...and I have been there before! It is an amazing location. I wish I had known that before I watched the movie because then I would have paid more attention to see if I recognized anything.  

No comments:

Post a Comment