A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romantic fantasy includes some passionate kissing and groping, as well as sexual references. Themes of loss, tension, and violence are throughout (including a scary scene when a boyfriend tries to painfully brand his girlfriend and semi-comic scenes of death). Some parents might be concerned about the theme of witchcraft (benign or otherwise), which include scenes of bringing a man back to life and spiritual possession.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
PRACTICAL MAGIC follows the story of two orphan girls from a family of witches. Raised by aunts who feed them brownies for breakfast and are visited by neighbors only when they are desperate for a spell, the girls grow up looking for a way to separate themselves from their past. Sally (Sandra Bullock) longs to be "normal," and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) longs to abandon herself to a passion that will leave her dizzy. Sally marries a man she adores and has two children before he is killed in an accident. Devastated, she blames the family curse that, according to legend, results in the early death of any man who loves an Owens woman. Gillian ends up with Jimmy Angelof, an abusive man. When Sally comes to rescue her, they accidentally kill Jimmy. Using their aunts' book of spells, they bring him back, only to kill him again when he attacks them. They bury him in the back yard, and think they are safe. But then a policeman comes looking for Jimmy, who is not as departed as they thought.
Is it any good?
This is an uneven adaptation of Alice Hoffman's lyrical novel. Bullock and Kidman are ideally cast as the sisters who are very different but very devoted. Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing are delightful as the wry but wise and loving aunts, bedecked in Victorian lace.
It is a pretty movie to watch, with some feel-good scenes and strong themes of sisterhood. But the movie is so uneven in tone and theme -- with a mix of comedy, romance, and fantasy that doesn't quite gel -- that the experience is ultimately more frustrating than fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: October 16, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: February 16, 1999
- Cast: Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Stockard Channing
- Director: Griffin Dunne
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence, intense thematic elements and sensuality
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love quirky movies
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch