Practical Magic, a look back at the original

Witches on a rooftop in Practical Magic

Practical Magic is all over the streamers now. Why? Because almost 30 years after the original movie released, Practical Magic 2 has been announced. Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock are on board. It’s time to revisit the original. Here’s a review of the action (with spoilers).

I haven’t seen Practical Magic since 1998. I remember loving it. I remember the iconic scene where they all dressed up in Halloween witch outfits and flew off the roof. But many details of the plot were lost to memory. Let’s review what this story is all about, shall we?

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic

Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) were born into a family of witches. As children they went to live with their two aunts – Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest). The family lived under a curse. Men who loved them were doomed to die.

The townspeople were afraid of them. Children shouted insulting rhymes at them.

Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest in Practical Magic

Their unconventional upbringing and magic ability affected them in different ways. Sally wanted to be normal. As a child she cast a spell calling a perfect man to her. The man she described couldn’t possibly exist, so she would be safe from falling in love and having her heart broken.

Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic

Gillian, on the other hand, wanted to be wild and free and try everything, including bad men. She found plenty of them.

As adults, Sally fell in love with a local man, Michael (Mark Feuerstein). They had two daughters, Kylie (Evan Rachel Wood) and Antonia (Alexandra Artrip). Her life was so normal. Then Michael died. The curse, you know.

While Sally was hiding under the covers dealing with her broken heart that wasn’t supposed to happen, Gillian sent out a cry for help. One of the bad men was abusing her. Sally went to rescue her.

The guy abusing Gillian was Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic). The sisters sort of accidentally, honestly not on purpose, killed him. They took him to their home in his car and buried him in the garden. A lush rose bush grew in that spot overnight.

Sandra Bullock and Aidan Quinn in Practical Magic

Then a cop showed up. He was Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) and he had questions about the strange car in their driveway.

The sisters tried to hide the fact that there was a guy under the rose bush, but it was hard because he was haunting Gillian and took residence in her body. She needed an exorcism. Gary somehow inspired Sally to tell the truth about everything. Even more problematic, Gary met the criteria set in that long ago spell that was supposed to keep Sally free from love and a broken heart.

The story ended up being a romance after all. The most fun part was when the ladies of the town all came to help with Gillian’s exorcism. The townspeople ended up accepting the witches and loving them. Hence the fun Halloween display from the rooftop.

The sister relationship was the key love story in the film, despite the various men who showed up. It was a look at what “normal” actually is, at acceptance and love, and at family bonds. The message was that being different is something to celebrate. Still an essential message all these years later.

Thinking ahead to what a Practical Magic 2 movie might be about, the sister relationship will have to be at the center of it. Will it move to the next generation, to Sally’s two daughters? Will the aunts still be around? What about Gary? Will he still be there? I look forward to learning the answers!

What do you remember about the 1998 version?

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