Thursday, December 23, 2021
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Thursday, December 2, 2021
The movie stars a young Tom Hanks (36 at the time) and a young Denzel Washington (38 at the time). Hanks plays Andrew Beckett who has just been made a senior associate at Wyant, Wheeler, Hellerman, Tetlow, and Brown, the law firm he works at in Philadelphia. (You probably could have guessed the city he lived and worked!) He's gay, but he keeps that information under wraps from his employers (and we'll see why much later in the film (spoiler alert: he works with a bunch of homophobic pricks)). Washington plays personal injury lawyer Joe Miller. We see one of his commercials played during the film and I couldn't help but think he should have used the tagline, "Better Know Joe!" But, of course, being a huge Breaking Bad fan, I couldn't help but think of Saul Goodman when I saw this. Joe's wife is about to have a baby girl.
Right after Andrew's been made a senior associate, one of the partners notices a lesion on his forehead and Andrew tells him he got whacked with a racketball. Nine days later he has more lesions on his face and by this time he has called in sick for four days and does his work from home. A friend of his (played by Chandra Wilson aka Dr. Bailey from Grey's Anatomy) puts make up on his lesions so they aren't as noticeable. The bronzer is called "Tahitan bronze" and Andrew says they're going to think he was on a cruise because he looks tan.
He gets a sharp pain in his stomach and tells his boyfriend, Miguel (Antonio Banderas), he needs to go to thehospital. It is there that he sees the TV commercial with Joe Miller. Long story short, while working from home, Andrew has been working on a super important file, but somehow it didn't get filed until the very last minute and he ends up being fired because of this. Or at least that's what the partners tell him why he's being let go, but Andrew believes he's being fired because they know he has AIDS.
Andrew tells Joe he's been fired by his law firm and he plans on bringing a "wrongful termination suit against Charles Wheeler and his partners." He tells Joe they told him he was fired for misplacing an important complaint, but his story is that he worked on it and left a copy of it on his desk, but the next day it had vanished and there wasn't even a hard copy. All traces of it were gone from his computer, but at the last minute it was miraculously found. (Hmm, how convienent. Sounds like a conspiracy theorist would have fun with this one). As he's telling Joe the story of how he was summoned into the partners' office, we see a scene of Andrew in the conference room where he's apologizing to the older gentlemen and tells them thank god it was found. One of the lawyers say, "This time. What about next time?" Andrew is then told that some people thinks he has an "attitude problem", which to me, seems to come out of no where because we never see any examples of this, and that some kind of "fogginess" has come over him. He is also told, "Your place in the future of this firm is no longer secure. We feel it isn't fair to keep you here when your prospects are limited." Andrew asks if they thought he had an attitude problem, why did they give him that important case in the first place? Heh, that does sound like something somebody with an attitude would say! Also, I'm guessing because they didn't know he had AIDS at that time! Joe confirms with him that he was concealing his illness from the partners. He asks Andrew, "Didn't you have an obligation to tell your employer you had this dreaded, deadly, infectious disease? Tell us how you really feel, Joe! Andrew replies, "That's not the point. From the day they hired me, to the day I was fired, I served my clients consistently, thoroughly, with absolute excellence. If they hadn't fired me, that's what I'd be doing today." Joe starts to see the light here: "And they don't want to fire you for having AIDS. So in spite of your brilliance, they make you look incompetent, thus the mysterious files." Andrew confirms this and says he was sabotaged. Joe asks him how many lawyers he went to before he came to him and Andrew tells him nine. It looks like Andrew will have to find an eleventh because Joe says he doesn't see a case here. This is absolutely insane that Joe says this because before Andrew arrived, we saw Joe talking to a guy who wants to sue the city for negligence because he fell into a hole that was clearly marked and blocked off. He asks Joe if he has a case and Joe says he does and takes the case! So you know he is lyyyyying!
Of course, it's clear why Joe doesn't want the case and even Andrew sees this. He tells Joe, "I have a case. If you don't want it for personal reasons.." and Joe confirms this is true and says he doesn't want the case. Andrew thanks him and leaves and that's that. At least for now.
So, seeing as how Joe reacted during this whole scene, it's pretty obvious he's freaked out about the whole AIDS thing. We even see him visiting his doctor soon after and his doctor assures him he can't contract the disease just because somebody who has it was in his officer and touched some of his stuff. Now I don't remember how well people knew about this disease in the early '90s, but I thought it was a pretty well known fact that HIV can only be transmitted through bodily functions.
Joe is blatantly homophobic, and yeah, it's not a great look. Obviously, this is 1993, which, sadly, explains a lot. We get this scene where Joe is telling his wife he doesn't like gay people and why he doesn't like them (although I get the sense he has more of a problem with gay men than women). His wife asks him if he even knows any gay people and he says no and asks her if she does and she ticks off a bunch of people she knows who are gay. This includes her big-busted aunt and Joe seems very disappointed about this which is super weird because she's his aunt. Yes, it is through marriage, but why is he so disappointed that his wife's aunt is gay? He shouldn't care because he's MARRIED so he shouldn't be looking at other women anyway, especially to his own wife's aunt!
The movie wants us to know how much time has passed from one signifiant scene to the other because they will show this by putting text at the bottom of the screen. We see that since Andrew has come to see Joe at his office, two weeks have passed and its around Christmas time. Joe is studying at the library and he sees Andrew a few tables down with a book that has "a section on HIV related discrimination." He sees and overhears a librarian tell Andrew that they have a private research room available, obviously trying to get him out of view of other patrons, but Andrew tells him he's fine where he is. The librarian still can't let it go and asks him if he would be more comfortable in a research room and Andrew claps back with, "No, would it make you more comfortable?" Ooh, snap!
Joe reads from the tome: "The Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against otherwise qualified handicapped persons who are able to perform the duties required by their employment...AIDS is protected as a handicap under law, not only because of the physical libations it imposes, but because the prejudice surrounding AIDS exacts a social death which precedes the actual physical one."
Six weeks later we see the Wyant, Wheeler lawyers in a box seat at a basketball game when Joe comes in with an envelop and tells one of the lawyers, Kenton, "Summons for you." Before he leaves, he tells the lawyer to read it and he'll see him in court. Kenton tells the others he wants to know everything about Andrew's personal life - Does he go to gay bars often? Do he go to other "homosexual facilities?" What "deviant groups or organizations does he secretly belong to?" They are out for blood and they plan to get it. Bob, another lawyer, has another idea. He wants to make a "fair settlement offer and put this whole tragic business behind [them]." Kenton has the same mindset as Joe because he grabs Bob by the shoulders and exclaims, "Andy brought AIDS into our office, into our men's room! He brought it to the annual family picnic!" Another lawyer says THEY should be suing HIM. Bob just asks where their compassion is. I guess they had to make one of the lawyers have a bit of humanity so they didn't all come off as scum-sucking lawyers. (They probably didn't want to offend the lawyers watching this movie!)
Another lawyer (can you tell I didn't bother to learn all their names? They're all old, white guys anyway, how can I tell the difference?) says he's looking for a "quick settlement," but Bob says a "jury might decide that he has a case." Kenton says Beckett was fired for incompetence, not because of his AIDS. He asks Bob if he knew he was sick and Bob replies, "Not really".
It's now Christmas and we meet Andrew's family. He has a sister, Jill, who is pregnant with her second child. He tells his family about what's going on and says there will be things said at the trial that will be hard for them to hear about him and his personal life. His dad tells him, "Andy, the way you've handled this whole thing, I don't believe there's anything anyone could say that make us feel anything but incredibly proud of you." His mom (played by Joanne Woodward; who is still alive at the age of 91 at the time I'm writing this) tells him, "I didn't raise my kids to sit at the back of the bus. You get in there and you fight for your rights, okay?" I'm glad Andrew's family is supportive of him since his former employees and his own lawyer, who is defending him, doesnt' like what he stands for.
Seven months later, Andrew has lost a significance amount of weight (another sign that Hanks would win the Oscar...they love it when actors go through physical transformations), his hair is thinner and looks gray. The trial has started by now and Joe tells the jury they're going to be "presented with a simple fact: Andrew Beckett was fired. You'll hear two explanations for why he was fired, ours and theirs." (He points to the prosecution) "It is up to you to sift through layer upon layer of truth until you determine for yourselves which version sounds the most true." He tells the jurors the Wyant, Wheeler parters broke the law when they fired Andrew for having AIDS.
Remember the woman named Melissa who Andrew told Joe about that worked with one of the partners at a firm in D.C. and she had lesions and everyone knew it was caused by AIDS, but she didn't get fired? Well, they get her to testify on the stand and she clarifies she told all the partners about it. Joe asked her how Walter Kenton treated her and she said everytime he'd come close to her, "he'd get this look on his face" and referred to it as the "Oh, God" expression. We learn that she got AIDS through a transfusion when she lost a lot of blood giving birth to her second child. To me, that is absolutely terrifying. You go to the hospital to have your baby, then come home with AIDS. Like, WTF? I hope she sued that hospital! So because she didn't get AIDS through sexual contact, she didn't get fired. It is interesting though since you'd think they'd be freaked out since they could still get it.
Even though Joe has taken on this case and is defending Andrew, he still shows his rampant homophobia by telling his friends who ask him why he took the case, "those people make me sick", but "the law is the law" and says the Constitution and Declaration of Independence said "All men are created equal", not "All straight are created equal." So good for him, I guess?
While Joe is at a drug store, picking up baby items, a clean cut young man comes up to Joe and tells him the case is very important and he's doing a fantastic job. He tells Joe he's a law student at Penn. Joe is very flattered by the compliment, but that quickly deflates when the young man admits he never picks up people in drug stores and Joe gets very defensive. Probably a little too defensive. He tells the guy he's not gay and assaults him by grabbing by him the collar and violently knocks some items off the shelf by doing that. Before he can get arrested for beating the guy up, he walks out of the store, calling him a derogatory name.
Meanwhile, in his personal life, Andrew tells Miguel that he's going to start planning his memorial service; that he's "going to start preparing for the inevitable."
When Andrew takes the stand, it's a couple days after Halloween (because we saw Joe and his wife attend a Halloween party hosted by Andy and Miguel (Joe wore a suit with papers stapled onto it and said he was a law suit...I always enjoy a clever, pun-ny costume)). The day before he takes the stand, Joe goes over some of the questions he'll be asked. He tells Andrew the first question he'll ask him will be, "Can you describe the circumstance in which you joined the firm?" Andrew asks him if he ever prays. Joe replies that's not the answer to the question, but yes, he does pray. Andrew asks him what he prays for. Joe tells him he prays his baby is healthy, that his wife made it through delivery, for the Phillies to win the pennant. He tries to get Andrew back on track with the question, but instead he tells Joe, "There's a possibility I won't be around to see the end of this trial. I've made some provisions in my will for some charities." He seems to keep avoiding getting prepared for the questioning and asks Joe if he likes opera, which he has playing. We get this scene where he's describing the music playing to Joe and he's intensely listening. The opera scene is a bit heavy-handed and maybe a taaaad bit overwrought, but probably another big reason why Hanks won the Oscar.
When Andrew takes the stand and Joe asks him the question that Andrew kept avoiding the night before, he answers, "Wyant, Wheeler aggressively recruited me. They were the most prestigious firm in Philadelphia, full of opportunity." He goes on to say he was impressed with the partners, particularly Charles Wheeler (played by Jason Robards): "He was the kind of lawyer I thought I wanted to be: possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, a razor-sharp, litigator, genuine leader, gifted at bringing out the very best in others", etc. etc. Joe asks him if he ever told Charles Wheeler he was gay and Andrew says he didn't. When Joe asks him, "Why not?", Andrew replies, "You don't bring your personal life into a law firm. You're not supposed to have a personal life, really." He says he planned to tell him eventually, but "something happened at the racquet club about three years ago."
As he describes what happened on the stand, we are shown a flashback of Andrew and the partners in a locker room at a country club. The partners start telling very derogatory jokes about women and gay guys. Andrew is sitting at the end, looking very uncomfortable while the others are laughing uproariously. He says he was relieved he never told them he was gay, which I totally don't blame him. Also, I don't think it's required you tell your place of work your sexual orientation. How does that affect your work, anyway?
Joe asks him if he's a good lawyer and Andrew says he is, that he loves the law and his favorite part of the law is, "Every now and again you get to be part of justice being done. That really is quite a thrill when that happens." Hmmm, whatever could he be talking about? When he says that, all the parters seem to know this case is over for them. When Belinda questions him, she asks if he takes risks and he says he takes "calculated risks" in his work. Belinda asks him if his doctor ever told him to reduce stress, "that long hours and stressful working conditions might damage the immune system and speed up [his] illness?" Andrew confirms this.
By this time, you can see Andrew is getting flushed and sweating and the camera is tilted as though he's not properly seeing things. Belinda asks him if he's ever been to the Stallion Showcase Cinema on 21st Street and he tells her he's been there three times in his life. She asks if they show "gay pornographic movies" there (yeah, I had a feeling that's what they show there!) Joe objects to this question, but Belinda says it's "vital to the issue of credibility."
We find out he had sex with a random dude named Robert one of those times he was in the theater. I don't know what's worse: doing it in a public place or doing it with a stranger. Actually, I think the latter is much worse, though I wouldn't recommend the former! But don't have sex with a stranger in a public place (even if it is dark!) Bleh! This happened in 1984 or 85 and is obviously the incident where he acquired AIDS. Belinda asks him if he was aware of AIDS back then and he says he was aware or something called "the gay plague" or "gay cancer", but "didn't know how you could get it or that it killed you."
Belinda asks him if he was living with Miguel when he had his "anonymous sexual encounter in the porn theater." Yes, but says Miguel was not infected, although he could have. I guess it is implied that he uses protection when he's with Miguel, but obviously didn't when he had his tryst in the theater.
Belinda asks Andrew if he has any lesions on his face and he says he has one by his ear. She holds up a hand
Joe grabs the mirror and asks Andrew if he has any lesions on any part of his body at the this time that resembled the lesions he had on his face when he was fired. Andrew says he does on his torso. He unbuttons his shirt revealing more prominent ones. I mean, Joe totally schooled Belinda on this. You would think the prosecution would know better.
Wheeler takes the stand and when asked by Belinda, tells her he did not know Andrew had AIDS and that he did not fire Andrew because he had AIDS. She asks him why he promoted him, only to fire him so soon afterwards. He's sort of saved from giving an explanation when Andrew collapses and has trouble breathing and is gasping for air. He it taken to the hospital with his family and Miguel. The trial still goes on with Joe questioning Bob. If you remember, he is the partner who had some ounce of compassion for Andrew. Joe asks him if he notice "any changes whatsoever in Andrew's appearance over the course of the year leading up to his termination?" When Bob says he did and Joe asks him what he thinks the cause was in the changes in his appearance, Bob says he "suspected Andy had AIDS", but didn't share that with anyone else.
We see the jurors deliberating. The head juror reiterates that the prosecution said Andrew was just a mediocre lawyer and the fact that they gave him "the most important lawsuit they ever had for one of two of their most important clients" doesn't prove anything because it was "just a test." He gives an example: "Say I've got to send a pilot into enemy territory, and he's gonna be flying a plane that cost $350 million. Who am I gonna put in that plane? Some rookie who can't cut the grade because I wanna see if he can rise to the challenge? Or am I gonna give the assignment to my best pilot, my sharpest, my most experienced, my top gun, the very best I've got?" Well, when you put it that way. He says he doesn't understand it and would somebody please explain it to him like he's a six year old. Everyone laughs, since it's a nice call back to Joe who would always ask people to explain something to him like he's a [insert low number here] year-old."
Three days later, the verdict comes in We see the jurors saying " I agree" to the judge, except for one who says, "I disagree." Don't they all have to agree on the verdict? I've seen Twelve Angry Men! Well, I have to remind myself what I know about the law is from what I learned from watching Legally Blonde and The Practice. And that one season of Law & Order.
After Joe leaves, we see all of Andrew's family members saying good night to him, but really they're saying good-bye as most of them are crying and this is just more than a simple good-night for them. (I hope I'm not spoiling anything, but surely you can't be too surprised that he dies!)
Miguel is the last one to talk to him and Andy tells him he's ready. In the middle of the night, Miguel calls Joe to tell him that Andy has passed. At a memorial they have for him, home videos of him as a young boy are played. When I watched this first time, I may or may not have had tears streaming down my face!
And to bring this review back full circle, I do love the opening credits of this movie where you hear the Bruce Springsteen song and see not only the touristy and historical areas of Philadelphia, but also the real and gritty areas too:
Saturday, October 30, 2021
The townspeople come banging at the door and the next scene is the three sisters about to be hanged. (I guess they found Emily's lifeless body in their cottage). Thackery's father asks Winnie what she has done with his son. She tells him, "I don't know...cat's got my tongue!" All the sisters start laughing and I start laughing too.
We get a bit of foreshadowing when the spell book drops to the ground and opens up to a page entitled "Spells to Resurrect the Dead" and there's one called "Black Flame Candle Spell." This will come back later. The witches will be able to come back from the dead if the black flame candle is lit by a virgin on Halloween. The witches are hanged (we see a nice shot of Winnie's green and black striped stockings...very Wicked Witch of the West) and the townspeople head home. It's very sad because Thackery, as a cat, tries to get his father's attention by meowing and rubbing against his leg but his father just kicks the poor cat away and tells him, "Away, beast!" DUDE. You just hanged three witches, your son is missing, and this black cat (totally synonymous with witches) is trying to get your attention. Put the pieces together, dude!
The movie transfers to "present day" 1993 (that's 300 years later if you're keeping count) to a high school class in Salem (still Massachusetts; not the capital of Oregon!) where a teacher has been telling the story of the Sanderson sisters to her class. She adds that some people believe on Halloween, a black cat stands guard at the Sanderson house, "warning off any who might make the witches come back to life." Everyone in this class is totally into this story and believes the legend of the Sanderson sisters. Everyone that is, except a kid named Max Dennison (Omri Katz), about fourteen or fifteen and who has recently moved to Salem from L.A. and he hates his new home. Everyone boos him when he tells them he doesn't believe in this malarky (excuse me, hocus pocus!) and tells them Halloween was invented by the candy corporations. The girl he has a crush on, Allison (Shaw), informs him that "Halloween is based on the ancient feast called All Hollow' Eve - the one night of the year where the spirits of the dead can return to Earth." All the students and teacher are clapping and cheering her and giving her high fives because she just schooled him and it's so ridiculous. Look, I've never been to Salem and I don't know anybody from Salem, but I doubt the residents are like, "Whoo! We persecuted and killed people because we thought they were witches! Go us!" Though, I guess in their defense, there were really witches who lived back then.
Max comes home in a bad mood because he gave Allison his number, but she gave it right back to him, then later he runs into these two bullies (one of them is wearing a leather jacket and has a flannel shirt tied around his waist and the other has the word "ICE" (his nickname) shaved in the back of his head. They are the most '90s Disney bullies ever) and they steal his cool new kicks.
They come across a house that is just a perfectly normal-sized two-story house. It is a nice house for a middle class family, but it's not the mansion they're acting like it is. Turns out it's the hone of Allison whose parents are throwing an elaborate 18th century party. Allison is wearing one of those 18th century gowns with the bodice, but she's not wearing the proper undergarments underneath it, so her dress doesn't poof out in an authentic way; instead it just lays flat on her body. I guess they were like, eff it, this girl will only be in this costume for less than five minutes, it doesn't really matter how authentic it looks.
The conversation turns to the Sanderson sisters and we learn that Allison's mother used to run the museum (their old home which is still standing all these 300 years later!) dedicated to them, but it was shut down because "a lot of spooky things happened there." We never learn exactly what these spooky things were. Max suggests they all go check it out and Allison agrees and goes upstairs to change. Dani doesn't want to go because she's heard about the spooky things from her classmates. Max tells her if she does this for him, he'll do anything she wants. He is treading in murky water because she gets an evil grin on her face and tells him next Halloween she wants them to go together as Peter Pan and Wendy. "With tights or it's no deal." Max quickly agrees to this. How much do you want to bet that Max didn't follow up with this deal? He already got what he wanted by spending the evening with his crush, excuse me "the girl of [his] dreams"; it's no skin off his back if he conveniently "forgets" about this deal.
Winnie realizes it's just regular water falling from the ceiling (and ditzy Sarah opens her mouth to drink it) and tells them to follow her. They run outside, but halt quickly when they see a black asphalt road thinking it's a black river. Winnie and Mary push Sarah into to see how deep it is, but Sarah is able to stand on the "river" and announces, "'Tis firm!" and they are able to continue on their way. Winnie tells her sisters (but mainly the viewing audience so we can have some exposition), "The magic that brought us back only works tonight, on All Hallows' Eve. When the sun comes up, we're dust. Fortunately, the potion I brewed the night we were hanged would keep us alive and young forever. Unfortunately, the recipe for that potion is in my spell book, and the little wretches have stolen it." As long as they find the book, brew the potion, and suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise, then they'll be fine. "Otherwise, it's curtains! We evaporate!" Not to get into semantics again, but doesn't Halloween end at midnight? When the sun rises the next day, it will be November 1st! Oh, well.
The go to the graveyard where Winnie resurrects her old lover, Billy Butcherson, who she killed herself by poisoning him and sewing his mouth shut with a needle so he "couldn't tell her secrets even in death" She killed him because she found him "sporting" with Sarah. She wants him to go after the kids, but they are quick to get away from him when Max snaps a branch in front of his face and his head falls off his body and while he's wasting time finding it, the kids escape in a tunnel that leads to the sewer.
There's really no reason for this scene with the Garry and Penny Marshall cameo, (Bette Midler must have called in a favor since Garry directed her in Beaches), but I did laugh when Winnie goes into the kitchen, picks up a mallet, and exclaims, "Behold! A torture chamber!" I can see someone from the 17th century thinking that about a kitchen: there are sharp objects, hot objects, weird electronic devices. When the wife sees Sarah dancing with her husband, she chases the women out (well, really her little terrier chases them out) and Winnie figures out that really wasn't their master and declares the costumed figures are actually children.
The witches find their way to the party and Max sees them and makes an announcement about them and how dangerous they are and they're after everyone's children. The crowd laughs, thinking it's a big funny joke. They also love it when the sisters sing "I Put a Spell On You".
Allison gets an idea and the kids lure the witches to the high school into a kiln. I'm not really sure how they lured them there...we hear a tape playing of a French lesson and for some reason this entices the witches to find out where it's coming from. I don't really know much about kilns. I'm not sure how big they typically are, but this one is big enough for all of them to walk into. The kids lock the door and proceed to burn them alive and we see green smoke escaping from the chimney. I'm looking at the time stamp and there is still half an hour left of the movie, so I know more shenanigans are to be had! After burning the witches, the kids are outside the school, cheering and doing cartwheels. This reaction is a bit extreme considering they just burned three people alive. I realize they were trying to kill Dani (and other children) and killed little Emily 300 years ago so I'm sure they felt they got justice for Binx, but look, we we just shot Bin Laden; it's not like we burned him alive. Their reaction of jubilance is a bit much.
Binx tells Max he's wanted to do that for 300 years, since they took Emily away from him. After telling Max to take good care of Dani, he starts to run in the opposite direction, but Max tells him he's a Dennison now and can live with them. They all go to the Dennison house where they hang out in Max's room; Dani and Binx on the bed and Max and Allison sitting on the steps. Oh, did I mention that Max has steps in his room? Yeah, they lead up to a widow's walk. Um, like how cool is that? Why is he complaining about his new town when he has a super cool room that leads to a widow's walk?? You know Dani is moving into that room after Max goes to college!
Allison ends up falling asleep at the Dennison house (both she and Max falls asleep on the stairs which can not be comfortable!) When she realizes it's five am, she tells Max she should go since her parents will kill her. They're probably worried sick about her! If it's five am, her parents' party probably ended hours ago and, yeah, they're probably wondering where their daughter is! But she quickly forgets about going home when she gets sidetracked when they see Binx snuggling up to Dani and Max tells her, "We owe him a lot." Allison gets the idea to look through the spell book (yep, still in in their possession) and see if they can find a spell that will reverse the curse. Max reminds her that Binx warned them not to open the book, but Allison just replies, "The witches are dead. What harm can it do?"
Plenty, Allison, plenty. You see, ALLISON, the witches aren't actually dead. Somehow, being burned alive didn't kill them...or maybe those kids don't know how to work a kiln, who knows? We see the door open and the three sisters walk out of the kiln with disheveled hair. There isn't even a trace of ash or soot on them.
They return to their home and Winnie is trying to remember the potion from memory since they don't have the book. She says she remembers that Sarah was "dancing idiotically over there", which Sarah hilarious reenacts her for. When Winnie is trying to remember one of the key ingredients, she just can't quite get it. Is it dead man's nose? Dead man's thumb? Dead man's gum? Sarah jumps in excitedly with, "Dead man's toes!", but Winnie just tells her to hush.
It's no use, Winnie can't remember the recipe for the potion and she starts sobbing and tells Mary in the most dramatic way, "This is the end, I feel it. We are dooooooomed. I feel the icy breath of death upon my neck." She requests that Mary take her to the window because, "I wish to say goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye, cruel world. Goodbye to life. Goodbye to all that."
Well, it just so happens that when Allison and Max opened the spell book, it shot a stream of red light right out of the widow's walk, illuminating where the book is and Winnie's tune quickly changes from depressed to ecstatic. She tells Mary, "We fly!" Mary isn't sure what they're going to fly on since all their brooms were stolen, but they open the supply closet and Winnie flies on a broom, Sarah flies on a mop, and Mary flies on a vacuum. I guess the criteria is that witches have to fly on something that cleans floors! Where is the Swiffer? That's what I would ride!
I must say the practical effects they used for the flying scenes look pretty realistic. I'm not sure how they did it, but props to the special effects department for this movie.
While Max and Allison are reading the book, they find out if they surround themselves with a circle of salt, they are protected from the witches' powers. Of course, this is going to come up later, but it's kind of weird they're even mentioning this because, as far as they know, the witches are dead and they don't need to protect themselves from them.
Max checks his parents' room to see if they're home, but they're not. How is it five am and the parents still aren't home? Is it because Winnie cast a spell at the party telling everyone to, "Dance until they die?" (Which she did, but I didn't think anyone was going to take literally!) Why haven't they shown us shots of the parents at the party, still dancing to show us why they're still not home?
While Max and Allison are in the kitchen getting salt (I guess you can never be too prepared), we see a creepy shot of a long fingernail cutting through the screen. The older kids hear a crash from upstairs and run up to check on Dani. She looks like she's laying in the bed, under the covers, but when the covers are pulled off, Sarah is lying in the bed. I have to admit, that reveal scared me because I wasn't expecting it! The closet door opens to reveal Winnie and Mary hiding with Dani and the book. They take Dani, Binx, the book, and shoot through the widow's walk, just leaving a huge gaping hole. I'm sure the Dennison parents are going to love to pay for that!
There's a cool shot of the silhouette of three witches flying over Salem where you can see the coastline and a lighthouse flashing its light.
Not sure if this movie is a musical, but we had the witch sisters singing "I Put a Spell On You" and now we get another musical number where Sarah sings a song to lure the children to them: "Come, little children, I'll take three away into a land of enchantment." As she sings this sing, we see kids, walking like zombies, toward the Sanderson home. Some are in their pajamas and some are still in their costumes. At five am? Why? Some kids are even in their pajamas with elements of their costume. The witches have tied Dani up in a chair and Binx is tied up in a bag while they brew the potion.
Allison and Max get an idea to fool the witches into thinking the sun has come up (even though there's still probably another hour before the sun actually comes up). They drive to the Sanderson house (I guess it's one of Max's parents' car; I don't think they just jacked this car from off the street) and right before the sisters are about to feed Dani the potion, Max bursts in and tells Winnie there's something called Daylight Saving Time, then Allison turns on the car's headlights, making the witches think the sun is coming up and they hide for cover. This gives Max time to get Dani and Binx out of there and he kicks over the cauldron with the potion. Very similiar to the first scene when Thackery knocks over the potion.
The witches realize they've been duped and Winnie inspects the caldron, declaring there's just enough potion left "for one child" and pours the potion into a vial. Even though the children they've summoned are still walking towars their home in a trance, Winnie has her sights set on Dani as payback since she called Winnie ugly while Winnie was brewing the potion and lauding how she was going to be young and beautiful forever. Dani told her, "It doesn't matter how young or old you are! You sold your soul! You're the ugliest thing that's ever lived and you know it!" The look Bette Midler gives Thora Birch in this scene is absolutely hilarious. Needless to say, Winnie does not like being called "ugly" and she tells Dani that she'll be the first to die. And Winnie plans to keep that promise!
The kids drive to the graveyard with the witches following them on their flying cleaning supplies. (Again, what is with the graveyard setting?) They run into Billy who takes the pocketknife that Max threatens him with to cut open the stitches in his mouth. He is finally able to tell Winnie off and Max realizes this zombie is on their side.
Max tells Winnie to put down his sister or he'll smash the vial. She retaliates by telling him if he smashes it, Danie dies. He drinks the potion instead and tells her she has no choice; she'll have to take him. It's very noble that he's sacrificing his own life for his little sister's, but hopefully he has a plan NOT to die! Max starts to emit the same glow Emily did at the beginning of the movie and Winnie, still on her broom, lifts up Max so she's basically holding him by the collar of his sweatshirt (that thing's gonna stretch out!) or even by his hair at times (ouch!) She's trying to suck the life out of him as he's struggling to let go. Sarah and Mary are trying to help her, but Allison, Dani, and Billy are pulling on the cord of the vacuum to prevent them, so Sarah has to pull on Mary's hand to help HER.
But, guess what? Time's up! Game over! The sun starts to come up (and this is a massive Sahara sunrise; no way this sunrise would ever occur in New England, especially in the fall). Winnie is surprised by this and both she and Max fall to the ground. But Winnie won't give up! She's determined to get the life force from Max before the sun has completely risen. She still's holding Max by his sweatshirt, but is distracted and freaked out when she starts to turn to stone, starting with her feet until she has turned into a statue standing in the middle of the graveyard (and still holding onto Max, but he's able to get away from her stone grip). I was confused for a second because I thought they were supposed to turn to dust, but then I liked the idea of Winnie remaining a statue forever in the cemetery and it would add more to the lore. Sarah and Mary, still flying on their brooms (just for a split second more!) are like "Uh-oh!" when they see the sun and they both turn into dust, though it looked more like glitter since Sarah turns into purple dust and Mary turns into red dust. Then the statue of Winnie explodes into green glitter dust and I was a little disappointed that her statue didn't stay. The sequel to this movie is supposed to come out next year with Midler, Parker, and Najimy reprising their roles. I bet the screenwriters are kicking themselves that they didn't leave Winnie as a statue! Oh, well, I'm sure they'll find a way to resurrect these witch sisters from being turned into millions of dust particles!
The great mood the Dennison siblings are in now won't last long when their parents return home and see the top of the house has been blown off!
So I really enjoyed this movie even though I have no nostalgic attachment to it. I can see why it's turned into a Halloween cult classic over the years. I do find it odd that this movie came out in July; this is a movie you must see during October during the Halloween season.
Happy Halloween, everyone!