Practical Magic

on October 16, 1998 by Christine James
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   While not fantastical enough to be truly bewitching, "Practical Magic" has enough tricks up it sleeve to keep audiences amused for a spell. Two sisters who come from a long line of witches find their romantic lives foiled by an ancestor who, in an attempt to shield herself from the pain of love, inadvertently cursed herself and her descendants. As a result, Sally (Sandra Bullock) invents a dream man who couldn't possibly exist in order to avoid falling in love, while Gillian (Nicole Kidman) has dalliances with numerous men without forming any attachments. Her latest beau, however, turns out to be an abusive lout; when the sisters accidentally kill him in an escape attempt, they must turn to that which they'd long ago shunned in the hopes of leading normal lives: magic.
   Disappointingly, there's scant sorcery for a film about the dark arts; many opportunities are lost in not showcasing the supernatural shenanigans of the sisters' eccentric aunts (Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest). The film reminds one of "Thelma and Louise"-lite and "The First Wives Club" more than the Necronomicon, but spirited performances conjure mostly enjoyable results, though it's not the devilish fun it could have been.    Starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest and Aidan Quinn. Directed by Griffin Dunne. Written by Robin Swicord and Akiva Goldsman and Adam Brooks. Produced by Denise Di Novi. A Warner release. Comedy/drama. Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense thematic elements and sensuality. Running time: 104 min.
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