Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star in 1998 fantasy drama Practical Magic. Heavily based upon the highly successful novel by Alice Hoffman, this silver screen version was originally set on an island close to New England, but was filmed in the San Juan Strait in Washington State as a result of adverse weather conditions.
When questioned as to why Bullock and Kidman were cast as sisters in spite of looking absolutely nothing alike, director Griffin Dunne claimed that research into the history of witches told him that siblings often looked nothing alike, consequently making a more realistic film. Practical Magic was at the mercy of fierce criticism upon release generating approximately $52 million throughout the world, this being very poor simply because they spent $60 million producing it, and didn’t even make their money back not to mention a return.
Sally and Gillian Owens (Bullock and Kidman) have always known that they were unique. Raised by their aunts after the death of their parents, the sisters spent their childhood years in a household which was certainly not typical. Their aunts fed them chocolate cake for breakfast and trained them to use practical magic. However the invocation of the Owens’ sorcery also includes a price. Some call it a curse; any man they fall in love with is condemned to a premature death. Now adult women with very different personalities, the quiet Sally and the spicy Gillian must use all of their strengths to fight the family curse and a swarm of supernatural forces which threatens the existence of all the Owens women.
Practical Magic isn’t a bad film, it is both light hearted entertainment and relatively enjoyable to watch. Both Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman perform well in their respective roles, and their on screen chemistry is incredibly strong. It is easy to sympathise with their circumstance. The elements of drama in this film are very effective which does come as a surprise taking into consideration the plot, and to some degree the supernatural side is entertaining.
Nevertheless, it also gets to a point where it just becomes too much.
Yes, Practical Magic is a fantasy film, but having the women on broomsticks with red and white striped stockings might be a little excessive. Despite the fact that it’s not outstanding, Practical Magic is reasonably enjoyable and definitely worth a rent if nothing else.