Filling the Gaps: Practical Magic


Welcome back to Filling the Gaps, our little series on films we should have seen, but didn't.

Now, you may feel that Practical Magic may not be a gap that necessarily needs to be filled, but I suspect it's more of a personal gap. No movie classic, it has nonetheless hovered in my brain as something I know I'd love (I loved all supernatural shows on the WB...even Charmed). And guess what? I did.

As if there was any chance of failure, with a cast that not only includes Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, but Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing and Aidan Quinn. And of course a terribly homely European named Goran Visjnic.

I'll be honest, I expected a sort of "quirky romantic comedy," so I was pleasantly surprised at the dark undertones present from the start, and how quickly things veered completely off the rails. Well done, Bullman (seriously, can we have more Nicole Kidman/ Sandra Bullock movies? I'm overcome by the CHARMINGNESS of it all).

If you're on the fence about seeing this, I can only recommend this scene of total insanity (and coconuts):


The intro pretty much sums up the entire film: "La la la, I know the music's exceptionally jaunty, but really, there's quite a serious curse that killed your family," said Mother Goose-witch. "There may be no males, but you can have all the sweets you want! Da ha!"


There can never be anything more delightful than Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest trading barbs in strange Southern accents, like a cantankerous old married couple that can cut you down with a yeehaw spell. They spark wonderful conversations like this:

"Oh good, we can take them to the summer solstice!"

"Fine, but I don't want them dancing naked under the full moon."

"As you remember, nudity is completely optional!"

There was this great period in the mid-90s where children weren't always portrayed as cloying, but actually a bit intelligent, and sort of interesting in their own right. I miss those days. I also miss the days when said children morph into insanely hot Sandra Bullocks.


The movie's not perfect, by any means. But I forgive everything for this piece of dialogue:

"She just keeps going through all these guys!"

"One day, a guy will go straight through her."

[Cue Nicole Kidman's character, weeping into her ovaries.]

Practical Magic reminds me that another thing the 90s had was Faith Hill, teaching pop-country fans everywhere about centripetal motion and perpetual bliss. Which explains why the movie sometimes feels like an extended remake of one Amy Grant video you may recall:

In more serious news, Nicole Kidman's a remorseless psychopath, which is kind of a nice twist for this sort of movie to take. I sincerely love how Sandra Bullock plays the bookish, uptight sister, while Nicole Kidman plays the wild one. We forget today, but Kidman once made quite a career as a firecracker before she became a "serious actress."


Favorite thing in the entire movie: Bath salts that transmit Joni Mitchell through the air! Ok, I wouldn't turn that down. Nicole Kidman, why don't you know the lyrics to your magical crystals?

Overall Verdict: Some kind of plot happens, but really, who cares? It's a fun romp that takes some unexpected twists, and Sandra Bullock is utterly charming. It's a shame she hasn't made more movies over the years. But I guess she's ruling the film world in her own way, which is pretty awesome too. Also, it passes the Bechdel test, again and again. If only more movies would realize that female relationships don't revolve entirely around men...

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4 Responses to “ Filling the Gaps: Practical Magic ”

  1. If you can find it (maybe on Youtube) check out the Mtv Movie Awards spoof where director Jan De Bont (know for Speed and Twister) was discussing making his next movie "'Candles and Kleenex".  It then had some of the actresses from Practical Magic discussing working with De Bont and how they loved the dancing scene, the crying scene, etc.  It was all a takeoff on the kinds of movies like Practical Magic that were coming out around that time.

    Personally, I think the movie is okay - neither bad nor good.  I did have to laugh at the little girl's line, "I hope you get [pause] chicken pox!" [everyone gasps].

  2. theoncominghope2 May 2012 at 14:04

    Welcome back! I'll try and track that down :)

    You're right that the movie's sort of "neutral" in quality, but I think it's typical of a certain type of 90's movie that's instantly forgettable, though you enjoy every minute. So many films today don't even succeed at diverting you for 2 hours successfully.

    Honestly, I think the kids are surprisingly entertaining. (Go figure, one of them grows up to be freaky Evan Rachel Wood...)

  3. I liked this film. It did not get the shine that it most certainly deserved at the time.

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