First thing's first: the 1998 cult-movie is not a perfect work of cinema. Not by a long shot. But, all the same, Practical Magic is hands down the one thing to watch before it leaves Netflix in December, if only for the sheer heart and warmth of the movie. It's worth conceding that the 20 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating Practical Magic got wasn't just one weird mass bad mood on the part of critics (though Vulture does report that the witch consultant hired on Practical Magic may have cursed the comedy, so there's probably that to consider, too). But everything that makes Practical Magic a mess is what makes it a classic that shouldn't be missed.
The film is a little all over the place in terms of plot. Mainly because it wants to have all the genres: there's a love story (between Sandra Bullock's character Sally and Investigator Gary Hallet); there's a noir element in Nicole Kidman's character Gillian's dealings with her abusive boyfriend Jimmy; and every 10 minutes it feels like a new plot consideration comes into play, like the backstory of the Owens family history or how the witch family fits into their community.
Still, push all of this aside, because the Kidman-Bullock chemistry is so damn real that you'll find yourself googling things like "Are Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock friends?" or, after your third watch, "Are Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock sisters?" That is some convincing acting.
You see, the true magic of this film isn't the Owens sisters' useful everyday supernatural activities (think, lighting candles with your freakin' mouth or letting your spoon continue to stir your coffee as you chat with a customer, or putting your sister's name at the top of the phone tree when all the other school moms are mean to her). The true magic of the film is also not that damn curse that keeps sending men who fall for an Owens woman to an early grave. Nope. The magic is, of course, sisterhood. What else would it be about in a comedy boasting a soundtrack with all the female music greats, Faith Hill and Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell?
Much like other '90s entertainment faves focused on sisterhood — Sister Sister, Sweet Valley High, The Powerpuff Girls — the film is beautiful and eloquent about how two very different sisters are stronger together. Yes, Gillian's an out-there party girl and Sally just wants to keep a low profile and raise her kids. But they both complement each other, with the redhead giving her sister that little shove she needs to integrate better into the town.
Since we're hurtling towards the festive season at the speed of light and the chances are high that you might be spending some time with siblings, this is a good movie to remind yourself that, although family might drive you nuts, if you're lucky, you can also learn something from them. The moments in the film where Gillian wakes Sally up by climbing into her bed have a powerful intimacy that feels far more #goals than the incredible '90s fashion (Bullock's loose up dos, maxi skirts; Kidman's spaghetti strap vests) or the brunette Owens sister's burgeoning relationship with Gary.
OK, this film can be a little spotty in places, but, if you're up for watching two of the most iconic actors of the '90s drink midnight margaritas and wreak chaos together while making a case for sisterhood as the most lasting love of all, there's only one Netflix film you need to watch this month. No, it's not Halloween anymore, but there should still be space in your heart for another witch movie when the film also happens to be devastatingly warm about true magic: what happens when two sisters reunite.