Hocus Pocus



Rollicking Halloween fun for tweens and up.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: September 26, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The teenage newbie in town (Max), his love interest (Allison) and his kid sister (Dani) outwit three naughty witches on Halloween. Along the way they learn about friendship and teamwork.

Positive role models

Max, Dani and Allison support each other and tackle the witches with intelligence. There are bullies and bad witches but these characters are very clearly in the wrong.


The violence is all magical, but there are a couple of gross-out scenes, such as a cat getting run over by a bus and a zombie cutting his mouth open. Some bullying; a child dies onscreen but not violently -- the witches take her life-force while she's in a trance-like state and she quietly slumps over in a chair.


References to virginity and an unfaithful lover; some flirting. Boy hugs a pillow and says "Oh, Allison, you're so soft."


Mild; the only offenders are "damn," "wench," "moron," and "go to hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

References to "hash" and "smokes," but none are smoked by the kids or adults.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie involves a plot to suck the life force out of children (and one little girl dies that way). A couple of high school bullies harass a male classmate in a graveyard, asking him for "smokes" and "hash" and finally stealing his shoes. There are mild sexual references, such as a high school boy hugging his pillow and murmuring, "Oh, Allison, you're so soft," as well as some frisky flirting from one of the witches. The main character is teased about being a virgin. The body of an "unfaithful lover" rises from the grave. Main features of the story are a book bound in human skin and a candle made from the fat of a hanged man. A tale is told about the Devil, and there are various gross-out moments. But it's important to note that all of the above is done in the playful, spooky spirit of Halloween.

What's the story?

Three hundred years ago in Salem, Mass., three witches murdered a little girl and cursed her older brother, Thackery, turning him into an immortal cat. The witches, better known as the Sanderson Sisters, are hanged for the crime, but just before their sentence is carried out, Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler), casts a spell to bring them back to life on a future Halloween night. When present-day high schooler Max lights a bewitched candle, he unwittingly performs the exact act that will bring the sisters back to life. With the help of Thackery, Max and his friends do their best to outwit, outrun, and outlast the witches.

Is it any good?


HOCUS POCUS is full of silly moments. Some of the best scenes involve the Sanderson Sisters -- Winnie, Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) -- walking through Salem on Halloween night, encountering costumed children. They perform "I Put a Spell on You" at a dance and mistake a man dressed as the Devil for the real thing and call him their "master." There are plot holes, and a lot of the film is predictable, but it's good Halloween fun nonetheless.

Families who like this movie might also enjoy The Worst Witch or Escape to Witch Mountain.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about scary stories, and parents can share their memories of Halloween. What's your all-time favorite costume? How do you want to dress up this year?

  • Depending on kids' age, they may be interested in learning about the Salem witch trials.

  • If kids are at all spooked by the movie, families can talk about why. What scared you? Do you think it was meant to be scary?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 16, 1993
DVD release date:June 4, 2002
Cast:Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thora Birch
Director:Kenny Ortega
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for some scary sequences, and for language.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

a great movie

not all that scary a good film 4 kids love a must see
Teen, 13 years old Written bypeace6001 October 14, 2011

A great Halloween classic!

Its a great Halloween oldie, I think maybe kids that are NOT that sensitive, but I personally thought it was a unique and really bewitching movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

Great movie with good laughs!

I really enjoyed it.It was interesting to see Sarah Jessica Parker in that character. It was a little unrealistic but,it was a Halloween movie.


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