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YMMV / Hocus Pocus

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  • Accidental Aesop: The whole movie could be a study in "Don't be a Leeroy Jenkins" and have a plan while preparing to improvise against murderous adults. Thackery running after his sister to save her life was noble but ended up leading to her death and his unwilling transformation; his father did better arriving with an angry mob and the weapons needed to subdue bloodthirsty, murderous witches. Thackery as a cat tends to use his knowledge of battling witches to assist Max, Dani, and Allison; Max in contrast to Thackery is great at improvising when he needs to protect his little sister but still does better when there's a plan in mind. Not all plans work, but they do help.
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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Sarah as ditzy as her sisters treat her? There are a couple of times where Sarah displays Simple-Minded Wisdom - remembering the ingredient for the potion, sensing the children in the alley behind the restaurant, and being able to get the bus driver to give them a ride just because he's attracted to her. The latter could point to Sarah being more aware of her own seduction power than her sisters give her credit for.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • A justified example; after being brutally murdered, Emily in her three hundred years of afterlife found time to cope with the trauma. By the time she comes to fetch her brother Thackery, she's a Cheerful Child who asks her brother why it took him so long to reach heaven.
    • Averted with Thackery Binx. He carries the trauma and guilt of failing Emily as he wanders around in cat form for hundreds of years. The only time he's truly happy is when Max and Dani offer to make him part of their family, and when he's finally freed from his curse and allowed to move on to the afterlife.
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    • Also averted with Dani, a Bratty Half-Pint who finds herself chased by witches who want to suck her dry and hurt her new cat friend. At the end of the movie, she sobs when Binx dies and she's begging him to wake up.
    • Played straight with Max at the end of the movie. He drinks a potion that would allow the witches to suck his life force to save his little sister, and spends the minutes to dawn wrestling with a murderous woman who turns to stone and shatters in front of him. After lying on the grass for a few minutes, Max just tells Dani with a smile that of course he risked his life for hers, that's what big brothers do. Also he finds Thackery's quip about him being a virgin Actually Pretty Funny as his sister's new best friend dies and goes to Heaven in front of them.
  • Cliché Storm: Is there a single late-Eighties or early-Nineties comedy trope they missed? Let's see here...We've got a Cool Loser hero with a pretty heavy snarker persona; his clueless yuppie parents; his bratty younger sibling; bullies; a cute talking animal; villains who spend at least as much time making dreadful wisecracks as doing anything truly evil; satirical jabs galore...
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  • Critical Dissonance: The movie garnered a 30% "Rotten" score from the critics, but received a much higher score of 70% from the audience.
  • Cry for the Devil:
    • Despite Winnie and her sisters being ruthlessly evil, the scene where the weakened witch calls out the window for her Book, then breaks down crying, does have its element of sadness.
    • Sarah when she dies a second time oddly has a Face Death with Dignity moment. As the sun rises, she spreads her arm and wishes Winifred goodbye.
  • Cult Classic: It wasn't a great hit at the box office (being a Halloween movie released in July will do that to you) or with critics, but has become a modern Halloween classic.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Sarah is often thought as less evil than the other two, probably because of her status as The Ditz and being the most attractive of the sisters. This ignores that it's part of her character to lure children to their home by appearing innocent and beautiful - and she's just as happy to eat Salem's children as Mary and Winnie.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Billy only shows up in the last third, but tends to be well-remembered and a favorite of fans of the film. Being played by Doug Jones certainly helps.
  • Estrogen Brigade: Max has quite the following of girls who crushed on him when the movie first came out.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Sanderson sisters are much funnier and more interesting than most of the heroes, and get an iconic Villain Song that doubles as an Ear Worm. The only thing that keeps Rooting for the Empire from kicking in is they're targeting children.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Sarah is played by Sarah Jessica Parker in her prime, with beautiful blonde hair, a dress that shows plenty of cleavage, and numerous innuendo-laden lines. She's a Hot Witch if ever there was one. But when she lovingly serenades children, it's clear that she is evil and dangerous:
    Come little children, I'll take thee away...
  • Ham and Cheese: The film is corny, sure, but those witches sure make up for it. Bette Midler called this her favorite role, after all.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • When Sarah Jessica Parker did Who Do You Think You Are? she was very disturbed to discover that one of her ancestors was accused of being a witch in Salem, MA. Before learning about her ancestor, she says she would rather have her being accused than doing the accusing. Luckily, the witch craze effectively ended one month before her trial.
    • Dani failing to get her parents to help her against the witches is exactly the opposite of how things went for Thora Birch in real life. Despite transitioning from child to adult roles quite well with American Beauty and Ghost World, her Stage Dad reportedly controlled her career and proved to be so difficult on set that she was fired from more than one project just so they didn't have to deal with him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When Max rescues Dani from certain death by the Sanderson Sisters, he says, "I know one kind of power that you don't have!" (or something like that), and Winnie asks, "And what is that, dude?" before he replies with, "It's Daylight Savings Time," followed by the turned-on car lights pretending to be the sun that harms them. Considering that it was a joke back in 1993 (when DST ended on the last Sunday of October in the U.S.), the new U.S. Daylight Saving Time rules weren't around until 14 years later, when DST now ends on the first Sunday of November from 2007 onward. The joke now still works only if Halloween happens to fall on the day before the first Sunday of November (i.e., Saturday, October 31).
    • Sarah Jessica Parker is on Fanservice duty as the sexy one of the witches. On her most popular TV show, she was infamous as the only one of the main cast who didn't do on-screen nudity - and derided as ugly by mens' mags and gossip blogs. Could lean more towards Harsher in Hindsight, depending on your sense of humor.
    • The two bullies are a tall, loud, skinny blond guy named Jay and his shorter, chubby sidekick with a nickname. (Ironically, said film was released while Miramax Films was owned by Disney.)
    • A "too cool for school" teenager wields a baseball bat to try and fend off something that wants to kill him and his friends. Is that Max or Steve Harrington? Doubly hilarious, since Jay's actor would go on to play the Lead Agent in that very series.
    • Kathy Najimy plays one of the witches (Mary) in a movie with a sizable LGBT Fanbase, and is very popular with drag queens in particular. One episode of King of the Hill, "The Peggy Horror Picture Show," revolved around Najimy's character, Peggy, befriending and becoming popular with a group of drag queens who mistake her for one of their own.
    • A Halloween movie released in July, by Disney? In other words, a Summerween movie?
    • Sarah Jessica Parker would later steal Bette Midler's husband in The First Wives Club three years later, just as her character stole Billy from Winifred in this film.
    • Dani casually (and to embarrass Max) mentions that she could never wear a elegant ballgown like Alison's because she lacks "yabbos." As anyone who would see American Beauty six years later, Thora Birch would indeed get the yabbos to wear such a dress.
  • Hollywood Homely: The witches are frequently referred to as "ugly" or "hags" by the Main Characters- except for Sarah who's Ms. Fanservice - but Winnie and Mary lean more towards Ugly Cute.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some people just watch it for Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker hamming it up as the witches and clearly having a ball doing so.
  • LGBT Fanbase: It's as camp as twelve tents, stars three major gay icons, and was even directed by an openly gay filmmaker. It would honestly be more shocking if this didn't have a queer fanbase!
  • Memetic Loser: Max is this in the film itself, due to the amount of times it makes fun of him for being a virgin.
  • Memetic Mutation: Long after this movie left theaters, you couldn't use the word "amok" without somebody chiming in with Sarah Sanderson's sing-songy "A-MUCK, a-MUCK, a-MUCK, a-MUCK!"
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • "A bit of thine own tongue."
    • Sarah eating a spider.
    • Sarah's "lucky rat-tail" — still there after 300 years.
  • Never Live It Down: Max's perpetual Virgin-Shaming (he's 15, by the way). It tends to be overblown by non-fans, but there are plenty of viewers who are so turned off by it that they're willing to dismiss the whole movie as a result.
  • Nightmare Fuel: See here.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • In the 1964 short Looney Tunes short "Bewitched Bunny", Hansel and Gretel turn to Witch Hazel and say, "Ack, your mother rides a vacuum cleaner!" before fleeing.
    • Hocus Pocus didn't originate the Unusual Euphemism "Yabbos." According to IMDB, "yabbos" was used in ''National Lampoon's Animal House for breasts in the phrase "major-league yabbos."
    • It's assumed that this is the first Disney movie to use the word "virgin"; the first Disney movie to do so was Dragonslayer.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Those skull-faced jazzers/rockers at the Halloween party were pretty cool. It may take a second viewing to realize that these performers segued from "Witchcraft" into "I Put a Spell on You" shortly before Winifred took over the show.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • The human form of Thackery Binx is played by Sean Murray, better known his role as Tim McGee in NCIS ten years later.
    • Kind of hard to believe that Mary Sanderson is the future voice of Peggy Hill.
    • He's never really been easy to "recognize" due to almost all his work being done under heavy costumes and/or makup, but Doug Jones has become far better known since this film.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The "I Put a Spell on You" Villain Song scene is easily the most iconic part of the film.
    • "Come Little Children" is also a very well-known song, though it may be considered mildly Covered Up as many people online don't know (or remember) its source.
  • Squick:
    • Tastefully averted with Emily Binx. She gets all the youth and vitality drained from her at the beginning of the film - but she slumps over in death, leaving only her gray hair visible. One can only imagine what her face looks like.
    • The examples under Nausea Fuel above play the trope straight.
    • Billy Butcherson's undead state offers plenty of squick, particularly when he gets his finger caught in the manhole lid after a motorcycle runs over it.
    • Binx is visibly squashed after being run over (though at the very least he survives).
  • Tear Jerker: Admit it - you cried when Binx died, too.
  • Testosterone Brigade: Between a voluptuous Sarah Jessica Parker providing plenty of Fanservice and the beautiful Girl Next Door quality of Vinessa Shaw, there's plenty of straight male fans too.
  • Toy Ship: Thackery/Dani, if you can believe it. While it's true that they do a lot of bonding in the film, it's more along the lines of Like Brother and Sister.
  • Values Dissonance: A children's film where such emphasis is put on a teenager's virginity probably wouldn't fly as easily as it did in the early nineties. Admittedly, though, no one actually cares that Max is a virgin. Dani is the one who constantly brings it up just to rile her brother, and even then it's possible she doesn't know what "virgin" really means. Binx is annoyed with Max for being foolish enough to light the candle. The fake cop, prompted by Dani's revelation, is just messing with some kids who he is sure must be trying to prank him. Alison, Max's to-be girlfriend, does not find it to be a problem.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The movie didn't do the best at the box office (a Halloween movie released in July?) and critics slammed it, and it seemed destined to be forgotten alongside Disney's other '90s live-action films. However, the movie slowly drew high ratings thanks to constant re-airings on Disney Channel and Freeform, who eventually started airing the movie in the same quantities that, say, TBS airs A Christmas Story. Today, the movie is a cult favorite and generally considered a Halloween favorite among many, and its reception seems to only grow every year.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The TV version in America is rated TV-14, but is still considered a family-friendly classic:
    • Considering how constantly it points out Max's lack of a sex life...(Virgin!)
    • Dani makes a joke about Alison's boobs - more specifically how much Max likes them.
    • The dead body of a child being shown onscreen in the first ten minutes...
    • The cat getting run over, and seen flattened on-screen, has freaked out many people. Of course he turns out to be alive seconds later but still...
  • The Woobie:
    • It's hard not to feel very sorry for poor Thackery Binx. The poor kid fights for all his worth to save his little sister, just to fail and then endure a Painful Transformation into a cat. Then he gets rejected by his father who he was trying to communicate with in his hour of grieving. Finally, and this is the juicy bit, he spends the next few hundreds years, alone, with only his self-appointed duty in keeping the witches from coming back to give him purpose, but otherwise wandering aimlessly through his own personal, eternal hell. The only thing that averts this from being a full on And I Must Scream is that he somehow relearns how to talk as a cat, and reunites with his sister in the afterlife.
    • Then there is Mr. Binx, Emily and Thackery's father. He finds out that his little girl is missing, and that his son is going after the local witches. He manages to raise an angry mob and subdue the witches, but he finds his daughter's corpse rapidly aged in the cottage, and Thackery nowhere in sight. The scene where he interrogates the witches on the gallows about his son's whereabouts is quite a Tear Jerker, especially when Binx in cat form tries to approach him and he doesn't realize the truth.
    • Max himself. He misses his old home and friends, it's hard moving to a new area, especially when you're a teenager, and his first day of school involves him being humiliated and having his trainers stolen. He's then constantly pestered by his bratty sister, and not once do his parents punish her for annoying him and going into his room, and then he is forced to take her out trick or treating. A lot of it is typical teenage angst, but poor Max does seem very down during the start of the movie, especially when he tries to take refuge in his room. Being harassed for lighting the candle and all that virgin shaming doesn't help matters.


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