Practical Magic joins the ranks of Moll Flanders and numerous other films in the at-least-it-has-Stockard-Channing-in-it subgenre. Easily flustered Sandra Bullock and man-eating Nicole Kidman play two sisters from a family with a long history of witchcraft. After a seemingly interminable expository sequence explaining the history of Bullock and Kidman's family, the specifics of the curse that haunts them (any man with whom they fall in love will die), their relationship to the town in which they live, Bullock's marital misfortune, her childhood wish for an impossible dream husband, the history of her herbal-remedies store, etc., Practical Magic launches into its slight supernatural romance. After they accidentally kill Kidman's abusive boyfriend (Goran Visnjic), Bullock and Kidman set about resurrecting him, killing him again, and burying him in the backyard. This action has several consequences, including Visnjic's return as a ghost and the arrival of dreamy lawman Aidan Quinn. Hey, at least it has Stockard Channing in it. Practical Magic has Dianne Wiest, as well, but even the presence of those reliable character actors, playing Bullock and Kidman's dotty aunts, isn't enough to elevate the film above the merely watchable. While it's usually best to suspend disbelief and not dwell on details, one instance of illogic in Practical Magic demands comment. When Bullock's character is describing her ideal mate as a child, she mentions that he will have one blue eye and one green eye. When Quinn makes his flirtatious arrival, anyone who's ever seen a movie will, of course, check out his eyes, eyes that are clearly both blue until it's convenient for them not to be later in the movie. Practical Magic is the sort of film that invites that sort of distracted analysis. Its flat whimsy, VH1-ready musical montage sequences, and less-than-magic magic realism will probably not be enough to hold the attention of all but the most undiscriminating fans of witches and Stockard Channing.
More from The A.V. Club