A young orphan boy and his friends, along with his Grandma, plot to foil the evil machinations of a coven of demonic witches at a sea side hotel in 1960s Alabama.
Spoiler Level: Moderate
To be honest, I have never read the book and the original movie with Angelica Houston is a distant memory with a vague sense of nostalgic fondness. So this review will not be a comparison to the source material or the original movie.
Witches live amongst us, in every city, in every country in the world. We aren’t talking nature loving pagans dancing naked under a full moon. WE are talking inhuman demons. You can tell a witch by their large mouths that stretch from ear to ear, three fingered claw like hands, toeless feet, and most of all they are bald. Oh, and they hate children. They view them as an infestation that must be exterminated.
The story (narrated by Chris Rock) follows a nameless young boy (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) who loses his parent and goes to live with his grandmother (Octavio Spencer) in Alabama. He is referred to as “Hero Boy” in the credits. I will just refer to him as Hero. Distraught over the death of his parents. Hero’s grandmother buys him a mouse to cheer him up, he calls her Daisy. While in a store, looking for supplies for Daisy, Hero meets a woman who offers him candy, around her arm is a snake. Their encounter is interrupted and the woman seemingly disappears. When recounting this to his Grandmother, she explains to him about the Witches and her own encounters with them. Worried for their safety, they go to hide at an upscale hotel near the coast. Unbeknownst to them, the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) has called a meeting of other witches at that very hotel.
Hero and his new friend Bruno (Codie-Lei Eastick), a young British boy on holiday with his parents, stumble upon the witches plans and are turned into, as Bruno put it, “mouses”. We find out that Daisy was originally a human girl and four months prior was also turned into a mouse by a witch. Her real name is Mary. Hero and his new friends, with his grandmothers help, come up with a plan to foil the groups worldwide plot to turn all the children of the world into mice.
This is a movie about love and acceptance and how no matter how small you are, you can have a big affect on the world around you. It is a morality tale of finding your place and feeling comfortable in your own skin, even if that skin has fur on it. Bruno’s family doesn’t really like him as a boy and can’t fathom him as a mouse. Mary did not have a family and was running away from an orphanage when she was turned into a mouse. Hero lost his parents. All the children feel out of place in the world, but together they form their own family full of fun and love.
These are all pretty deep themes, and honestly, this movie could have played them up a bit more. For the most part it is a fairly run of the mill film made specifically for kids. There is plenty of tension, visual effects and juvenile gags and the comedy is really aimed at the younger crowd. There are touching moments, but I never felt that the story relished those moments long enough for the audience to really feel the impact. The timing was well paced and the acting was really good. The script and directing all very well done. Some of the special effects were a little bit cheesy, but overall visually pleasing. Anne Hathaway does a great job as the Grand High Witch, really making the part her own. Her accent does get a bit too thick at times and it can be difficult to understand what she is saying, but her performance is both comical and demented! Octavia Spencer is good in almost any role she does and plays the loving grandmother very well. The two child actors in the film are also very good. Jahzir is quite believable as a child distraught by the loss of his parents and who finds his place in the world after being turned into a mouse and Codie-Lei has wonderful comic timing and voices the always hungry Bruno mouse with ease. Kristin Chenoweth voices Mary, and with her thick southern drawl and chipper personality is the perfect foil for Bruno. Stanley Tuci as Mr. Stringer, the hotel manager is another actor who is amazing in almost any role he takes, and his comic wit shined here as well, I wish he was in the film a bit more.
Overall the film is fun, but mainly for children. It is visually pleasing to watch with lots of action scenes, a bit of heart and love and some good laughs. But…But, it was missing that certain magic that could have made this movie amazing. With a stunning cast, good script, plenty of action and great direction it just seemed a bit too typical.
It is hard sometimes to explain what makes a good movie amazing, and this is a good movie, but there is just something missing. Maybe it is magic!
The Witches – Fly My Pretties, Fly!
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 8/108/10
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