Released 10/16/1998 Rated: PG-13
This movie has been labeled a romantic comedy, but I have not tagged it as such because I do not believe that label is justified. A rom-com, as some people like to shorten it, is where the overall plot has to do with love. Now, the beginning of this movie shows our young protagonist never wanting to fall in love, and then end of the movie shows our protagonist with the perfect guy, but in between those two points (which is the majority of the film) the plot really has nothing to do with her falling in love. You’ve Got Mail and Bridget Jones are romantic comedies. I consider Practical Magic to be more of a lighthearted drama.
Roger Ebert said that “the movie doesn’t seem sure what tone to adopt, veering uncertainly from horror to laughs to romance.” As much as I love this movie, I have to agree here. I don’t think the film is all over the place, but a set tone would enhance the overall experience. Then again, it could be a reflection of our main protagonist. Sally is quiet and reserved, perfectly happy with keeping to herself and never falling in love. She gets her chance to be normal, to get married and have kids, and lead a boring life not being accused of witchcraft. When her husband passes, she is swept back into this world of spells and magic despite her attempts to suppress it. Everything that happens to Sally shifts her world. She loses her husband, has to protect her sister, hide the evidence, and then ends up falling for a cop. Were any of the other Owens women our lead protagonist, the movie would flow a lot differently. So that’s my theory.
Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the Aunts. I absolutely love Stockard Channing, and this role seems right up her alley. Dianne Wiest is a joy to watch as well. If we could have a movie about them, I’d definitely go see it. It would be funny and magical and dark all at the same time. You couldn’t ask for a better witch movie.
I really like this movie. A lot of people do. The critics didn’t, but this movie wasn’t really made for them. It’s definitely a 90’s movie, but there are worse ones out there.