Sisters Gillie (Kidman) and Sally (Bullock) were born into a family of witches, but they couldn’t be more different in their approach to this condition. Gillie’s the wild one, who thinks being a witch is cool. Sally wants a normal life and has avoided witchcraft like the plague; she was happily married, until her husband fell victim to the family curse, in which men who love these women suffer untimely deaths. Heartbroken, angry, and depressed, Sally moves back into her childhood home with her 2 kids, to live with the family matriarchs (Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing). The trouble begins when Gillie hooks up with a loser, and needs Sally to get her disentangled before the guy kills her. The sisters inadvertently kill him instead, and when they try to bring him back to life, chaos ensues.
Whimsical and visually extravagant, Practical Magic swings from comedy to romance to mild horror and back again. All four actresses, each justifiably notable, are well cast. Perhaps the most fun comes from the main setting – the witches’ house is a pink Victorian confection with miles of staircases and an ocean view. Magic seems possible in a house like that. Some of the dialog is reminiscent of Doris Day movies (“What wouldn’t I do for the right guy?” and “Out of bed, sleepy head”), but some is genuinely funny. A few of the scenes may be a bit too strong for young children, but this film certainly does not have the edge of today’s vamp movies.
Practical Magic should not be taken too seriously as a film. Enjoy it for what it is, and you’ll have a good time.