I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Billy Eichner’s LGBTQ2+ rom com “Bros,” the Vietnam story “The Greatest Beer Run Ever,” the creepy psychological horror film “Smile” and the Halloween reboot “Hocus Pocus 2.”
“Lock up your children,” says Winifred in “Hocus Pocus 2.” “Yes Salem. We are back!”
Twenty-nine years ago, the original “Hocus Pocus,” a comedic fantasy about the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, was a middling hit in theatres, and labelled “dreadful” by Gene Siskel.
But despite critical lashings and a current score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, over the years, the Sanderson sisters have become Halloween favorites, so much so, that the town of Salem, Massachusetts threw a celebration in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary.
Disney+ gives fans another wave of the wand with “Hocus Pocus 2,” a sequel that gives new life to the Sanderson sisters.
The new film begins with a flashback to hundreds of years ago in Salem. The Sanderson sisters, played as teens by Taylor Paige, Nina Kitchen and Juju Journey Brener, become outcasts, sowing the seeds of the rage that will consume them for hundreds of years.
Cut to present day. Salem teens three teens are Becca (Whitney Peak), Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) are best friends, who hang out at the local magic shop run by Gilbert (Sam Richardson). With the help of a special Black Flame Candle, supplied by Gilbert, the teen trio resurrect the sister witches, just as Max (Omri Katz), Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and Dani (Thora Birch) did decades before in the original film.
But Salem is a much different place since the sisters last visited. In the midst of a Halloween celebration, the sisters don’t inspire fear as much as admiration. So many revelers are dressed as the Sandersons, that the city hosts a look-alike contest.
But it’s not all fun and games. The sisters are looking to gather up some tasty teen life-forces and get vengeance for the mistreatment they suffered years before. It’s up to the high schoolers to stop them.
Part horror comedy, part musical (the sisters don’t understand modern day traditions, but somehow are able to belt out Blonde’s “One Way or Another” at the drop of a witch’s hat) and all nostalgia. The spectre of the 1993 haunts the new film as it pays homage to the original to the point where the new stars—Peak, Buckingham and Escobedo—get lost in the shuffle once the original sisters show up.
As fans of the first movie might expect, Midler, Najimy and Parker chew the scenery, offering up larger-than-life performances, heavy on the whimsy. They are campy—particularly when singing a revamp of Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back,” reworked as “The Witch Is Back”—and often funny in an outrageous but family-friendly way.
“Hocus Pocus 2” is fan service. It expands the Sanderson sister’s story, providing an origin story (probably the best part of the movie) and gives Parker and Najimy more to do than the original. Mix in some modern sensibility about accepting people’s differences and you have an hour and forty minutes of forgettable fun. It’s not nearly as bewitching as the 1993 film, but may cast a spell over longtime fans.
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the latest remake of “Pinocchio” starring Tom Hanks, the historical drama “Medieval” and the house of horrors flick “Barbarian.”
Richard sits in on the CKTB Niagara in the Morning morning show with guest host Stephanie Vivier to talk the new movies coming to theatres. This week we look at the latest remake of “Pinocchio” starring Tom Hanks, the historical drama “Medieval” and the house of horrors flick “Barbarian.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the latest remake of “Pinocchio” starring Tom Hanks, the historical drama “Medieval” and the house of horrors flick “Barbarian.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to flip a coin! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the latest remake of “Pinocchio” starring Tom Hanks, the historical drama “Medieval” and the house of horrors flick “Barbarian.”
Following the introduction of the indeterminate intonations of his Col Tom Parker character in “Elvis,” Tom Hanks now goes Tuscan, continuing his exploration of world accents with “Pinocchio,” a live-action CGI hybrid musical, now streaming on Disney+.
Hanks is Geppetto, an Italian woodworker who carves a puppet named Pinocchio out of a block of white pine. The elderly, lonely man treats the marionette like a son, and lo-and-behold, after he wishes on a star, Pinocchio (voice of Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), with a little help from The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), comes to life.
But is he a real boy? Nope. “To be really real,” says the Fairy, “he must pass an ordeal. He must prove that he is brave, truthful and unselfish.
To point the puppet in the right direction, the Fairy appoints the wisecracking Jiminy Cricket (voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to be his moral guide. It’s his job to teach the newbie right and wrong, to be his conscience. “Conscience,” he says, “is that little voice that most people choose not to listen to… and that’s what wrong with today.”
With good intentions and endless curiosity, the pair set off but are sidelined when Jiminy is imprisoned in a glass jar. Left to fend for himself, Pinocchio experiences the ups-and-downs of life as a puppet cut loose in the world. He first falls under the control of a cruel puppeteer named Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston), meets Lampwick (Lewin Lloyd), a mischievous boy with an eye for trouble, and even gets eaten by a sea monster called Monstro the Whale.
Pinocchio is getting loads of life lessons, but is he learning life’s most important lesson? “The most important part of being real, isn’t what you’re made of,” said the Blue Fairy. “It’s about what’s in your heart.”
“Pinocchio,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a respectful retelling of Disney’s 1940 animated classic. The edgy details from that movie and the 1883 book by Carlo Collodi have been smoothed over—Pinocchio does not, for instance, smoke a cigar in this version—but visually, Zemeckis takes his lead from the classic Walt Disney Animation style. From the puppet’s yellow hat, blue tie and red lederhosen, this Pinocchio is strictly traditional.
It’s a vibrantly colored romp, an action adventure that, despite the up-to-the-minute technology involved, feels old fashioned, dare I say wooden, in its approach. Good messages about the importance of family and learning from your mistakes abound, the peril is kept to a family-friendly minimum and, like its main character, the movie is just a little naïve.
Following in the footsteps of other Disney live-action remakes like “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book,” the latest version of “Pinocchio” adds new technology to the story, but no new ideas.
Watch Richard Crouse review three movies in less time than it takes to to jump backwards in time! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the time travelling adventure “The Adam Project,” the panda-riffic fantasy “Turning Red” and the contemplative “After Yang.”
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Zuraidah Alman about the Oscar nominations and the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the new Pixar animated film “Turning Red” on Disney+, the Crave sci fi adventure series “Star Trek: Picard” and Ryan Reynolds in the Netflix flick “The Adam Project.”