| Practical Magic wants to be funny but
cant seem to find the right tone. There are virtually no belly laughs culled from
the story of family of witches living under the shadow of an ancestors curse. When
the film tries to be romantic, there is little substance.
Brought up by their maiden aunts, Sally and Gillian Owens would
like to forget their witchs legacy, but between the temptations of their aunts and
the taunts of the townsfolk, its not so easy. The eccentric aunts could be an
advertisement for "Good Witchmaking Magazine." The sexy Gillian takes off in
search of adventure and romance while stable Sally stays home and makes kids. But the
Owens curse changes everything.
Set in a picturesque New England seaside
town, director Griffin Dunne works too hard at providing quaint touches, mostly a la the
aunts. The innocence of small town life is presented with a rather repugnant sugar
coating. When the film takes some strange dark turns it is mostly heavy-handed. A measure
of redemption comes with the arrival of an investigator searching for Gillians
serial killer boyfriend.
The quartet of witches working hard to make Practical Magic
appealing are Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Diane Wiest and Stockard Channing.
Kidmans role as Gillian calls for too much sleaze while Bullocks Sally never
lets it all hang out. The bed laid moments of witchcraft are left in the ample arms of old
pros Stockard Channing and Diane Wiest playing the aunts. Aidan Quinn doesnt quite
know what to do with investigator Gary Hallet. Quinn and Bullock have nice screen
chemistry together, but they spend too little time getting to know one another. The maiden
aunts are the funniest part of Practical Magic, a film that strives so hard for its
quaintness that it falls on its rather broad posterior.
The production witches have done a nice job making a spell over
this transfer and turning it into a sharp and satisfying anamorphic DVD. A full color
range is tightly transferred with excellent skin tones. Bright colors and high contrast
camera work provide a snappy palette for Practical Magic. Theres a very
upbeat soundtrack accompanying much of the film. Its delivered with a pleasant
range. It sort of falls apart when the saccharine gets too heavy, but it is well recorded
on the Dolby Digital 5:1 sound track. This special edition DVD of Practical Magic
includes scene specific commentary from director Griffin Dunne, two "making
of" shorts, several TV spots and a thetrical trailer. You need to solve a magic
potion mix to get tot he promotional shorts.