Practical Magic Review

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Two witch sisters try to find love.


Practical Magic is a chick movie with a multiple personality disorder. It tootles along being cute and fluffy like a twentysomethings' version of Sabrina The Teenage Witch, but to further its notions of sisterhood and the power of women, it also takes a spin through Thelma And Louise territory, then revisits The Exorcist to up the supernatural content. It's enough to make your head spin.

Sisters Sally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) Owens come from a long line of spellworking outcasts, complete with hereditary outlandish dress sense, and have been raised in the craft by their kooky witch aunties (the enchanting double of act of Wiest and Channing).

All of the Owens women have the gift of magic, but it happens to come with a curse: the men they love tend to drop dead as soon as they've helped reproduce another generation of girls (always, evidently, one willowy redhead and one petite brunette). This is something of a worry when Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn), a suspicious cop, turns up and sticks around being bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Sally wants to be "normal" and mostly restricts her herbal expertise to making botanical body lotions. Gilly, however, is a wild girl who travels the world making men crazy and discarding them like soiled tissues. Guess who has the most fun?

Though their personalities and lifestyle choices are poles apart, the sisters' bond is unbreakable, and their separate troubles eventually reunite them, culminating in our heroines fleeing across the country with a corpse in their car and a levitating Kidman, the unhappy hostess of the dead man's spirit. Time to pull out the stops in a decorated demonstration of coven power featuring women with brooms doing things you never dreamed of with an aerosol can of whipped cream.

It's a no-brainer with ruffles but Bullock and Kidman work their own kind of magic that makes this fly, especially with the delicious comic support. Dunne directs prettily, aware that for all its side-tracking and shifts of mood, this is fanciful, fun, romantic escapism - a strange but bubbly brew.

Enjoyable escapism in this run of the mill rom-com with magic bells on.