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PRACTICAL MAGIC

SYNOPSIS:
Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) Owens come from a long line of witchcraft practitioners including their maiden aunts (Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest), who raised them. Part of that legacy involves a curse on the men in their lives, leading Sally into a tragic longing for true love and Gillian to a pursuit of loveless affairs. The plot thickens when the two sisters kill Gillian’s boyfriend (Goran Visnjic), in self defence. The women try to hide from the repercussions of their deed, even as good-hearted cop Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) tries to help them. Sally recognises in Hallet some of the qualities that she as a child dreamt up for a spell to identify an impossible male, so she would never have the misfortune to fall in love. Oooops….

"The Witches of Eastwick plays with the supernatural in a comedic style, and does so with great bravado, setting just the right tone for a bit of serious fun. Practical Magic fails to set that tone, slithering between being an earnest witchery film and a good hearted would-be romantic comedy-cum buddy film, with sisters. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman – no matter how much make up and hair work is done – don’t gel as sisters for a start, but the bigger problem is that the film doesn’t gel as fun. Nor as supernatural fairy tale. Nor as romantic adventure. Too little comedy, too little romance, too little supernatural and too little energy bring it all down to a plodding film that’s inoffensive and even likeable in parts, but basically uninspiring. The premise of a cursed line of women whose men all die prematurely is workable, but it needs to be either much blacker or much funnier. Or both."
Andrew L. Urban

"An intriguing concept, which probably works far better in its book form than on film, Practical Magic offers some sparkling moments, but fails to gel as a whole. Partly due to a heavy handed approach and a script that doesn't manage to instill believability in all the elements, it flounders and drags, despite terrific performances. While the key relationship between the two sisters doesn’t quite work, that between Sandra Bullock's character and Aidan Quinn's does, and is quite affecting. Bullock shines through with a simplicity that has become her trademark, while Quinn is charismatic and intriguing. Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing provide rich moments and Goran Visnjic is compellingly dark. Nicole Kidman looks fabulous but somehow isn't quite at home in this role. The first half of the film seems too hard and dies a death stamped by contrivance. But there's genuine pace and pulse in the last reel when the magic brews up a storm. Sadly, Practical Magic has little magic to offer, despite a high profile cast and good production values."
Louise Keller

"This could indeed have been a charming little comedy, but alas, there is both little charm and less comedy in this oddball film, directed with lifeless indifference by Griffin Dunne, who seems to have very little idea on pacing and substance. Practical Magic is one of those regrettable films that tries far too hard to be too many things for too many people. On the one hand, it's a cute romantic comedy; on the other, a murder mystery complete with ghosts and an exorcism; then of course it's a little drama about siblings. Yet none of these elements seem to fit in the cauldron here. From the outset, you also have to buy the fact that Bullock and Kidman are sisters, which is a tough call. Kidman's performance lacks the kind of comic subtleties displayed by her far better co-star, and is one of the film's few redeeming features. Practical Magic is a mess of a movie, a silly mix of styles and genres, all rather badly put together."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 3
Mixed: 0

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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

PRACTICAL MAGIC (M)
(US)

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn

DIRECTOR: Griffen Dunne

PRODUCER: Denise di Novi

SCRIPT: Robin Swicord, and Akiva Goldman and Adam Brooks (based on book by Alice Hoffman)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn BSC

EDITOR: Elizabeth Kling

MUSIC:Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robin Standefer

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: February 4, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: August 10, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment







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