Do you remember Practical Magic, the movie about Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as a pair of witch sisters? What about all the frogs? You don't? Well buckle in, because I am here to tell you that Practical Magic is goddam gem of a movie. Even if it has 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Practical Magic is about a light-haired sister and dark-haired sister who are descended from a long line of witches. They move in with their aunts (Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing) — also a pair of light-haired and dark-haired sisters — and learn about magic and the curse that kills off the men in their lives. The dark-haired sister (Sandra Bullock) falls in love and has a pair of — wait for it — dark-haired and light-haired daughters. After her husband dies, the sisters end up killing light-haired sister's (Nicole Kidman) abusive boyfriend. Then he gets resurrected, killed again, and then haunts them. A classic family story.

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Practical Magic has everything. You need romance? I give you Sandra Bullock's Sally Ownes and Aiden Quinn's Henry. You need horror? I give you Goran Visnjic's dead and haunty face. How about a story about sisterhood overcoming everything, including possession? GOT IT. What about accepting yourself and your abilities? SALLY, AGAIN. What about overcoming a town's prejudices and coming together as a community? BOOM. The defense rests!

Does that sound like too many plots for a single film? Yes, it is. Instead of everything hinging on plot, everything in this movie hinges on feel. Very little of the magic was of the "squint and make stuff happen" variety. It was Sally's organic bath oils and remedies store. It was the cut and bloodied palms of two sisters who loved each other pressed together. Flower petals. Brooms to sweep up the ashes of a banished soul. A little singing that speeds the car up:

One of the more adorable scenes is when Nicole Kidman's character makes a potion to get rid of her sister's love interest/the man investigating the disappearance of the boyfriend they killed, she puts it in syrup. Her nieces help, but when they realize the investigator has all the qualities of a love spell (well, actually an anti-love spell) that their mom cast as a child, they take the syrup, run down to a cliff overlooking the ocean, throw it in, and celebrate. It's so cute and weird.

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I really, really loved the town vs. Owens family stuff in this movie. I loved how much Sally just wanted to be picked for the top of the phone tree, and that her sister magicked it for her. I loved when the investigator asked the town about them and everyone's like, "On Halloween, they jump off the roof and float down," "If you make them angry, they hex you," "I'm not saying they killed him. Just that they shook his hand and then he died." And when Sally uses the phone tree to get all the moms in town to act as her coven, she goes, "Yeah, all those things you say about me? Totally true." And then one mother describes the possession as "Sally's sister just got out of a bad relationship and her ex just will not leave her alone."

And the cast is just ridiculous. Nicole Kidman as the bad, party-girl sister. Sandra Bullock as the reasonable one who just wants to fit in. Visnjic's horribleness. Quinn, who's basically a cowboy. And Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing steal every single scene they're in. Here's probably the best scene in the movie:

Finally, the soundtrack is a microcosm of everything middle-school me wanted to listen to until the end of time: Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Faith Hill. Years before Ryan Murphy and American Horror Story was on the Stevie Nicks-as-a-witch train, Practical Magic got there first.

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Practical Magic: It's a wonderful way to pass 105 minutes of your time. It's on Netflix right now. Go. Go watch it.


Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.

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