Practical Magic

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Griffin Dunne

REVIEWED: 10-19-98

It all starts with tinkly music, voiceover and swooping seagulls. Uh-oh. While "Practical Magic" has moments where it seems to be striving to become a clever parable about girlish otherness, Griffin Dunne's clumsy direction (and the multi-credited editing) dashes even the charms of leads Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. When only moments later, we're in the midst of a schlock-song driven montage, you know something went wrong with the chemistry set. Playing sisters who have inherited a knack for witchcraft and a nasty curse that kills any man who loves them, Bullock and Kidman are reduced to making silly faces. Bullock is dressed dowdily, while Kidman, looking all of ninety-four pounds, seems to have it written into her contract that her lithe legs and perfectly arched feet must be displayed as often as Harvey Keitel might show his penis. Flounce, bounce and preen as they might, they're adrift on a sea of Banana Republic home furnishings. The proceedings turn stranger when Arizona cop Aidan Quinn comes looking for an abusive boyfriend of Kidman's who the pair have killed, but it all turns out okay. Even the suspicious townswomen accept these perky Wiccans as good citizens. I think the film says that it's okay to murder and dismember men who are bad mates, a la your basic Marleen Gorris diatribe, but it's probably a stretch to assume that "Practical Magic" says much of anything in the end. Panavision.

--Ellen Fox

Capsule Reviews
Practical Magic
Practical Magic
Practical Magic

Other Films by Griffin Dunne
Addicted to Love

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