The Hilarious Way “Hocus Pocus 2” Fixed the Original’s Weird Virginity Storyline
“Hocus Pocus 2” has a very funny moment that calls back to one of the stranger – and most criticized – parts of the 1993 original. In “Hocus Pocus,” the Sanderson sisters (Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) can only return to Salem if a virgin teen lights the Black Flame candle. Max (Omri Katz) is the one to do it, and the movie is shameless in mocking him for his lack of sexual experience. Even his 8-year-old sister, Dani (Thora Birch), makes fun of him for it.
The focus on virginity is a little weird for a movie ostensibly for kids, and it’s been the subject of a lot of criticism over the years for buying into tropes of toxic masculinity. Max doesn’t deserve to be mocked because of what he has or hasn’t done in his relationships (never mind the fact that virginity is a construct). “Hocus Pocus 2″ makes a great change around this plot point, though.
Early in the movie, Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) visit Salem’s local witch store, Olde Salem Magic Shoppe, on Halloween. The proprietor, Gilbert (Sam Richardson), tells the gathered customers the legend of the Sanderson sisters. He calls them the “most powerful coven to ever live” and even shows off his locked-up copy of Winifred’s book of spells. The movie flashes back to the first movie and the death of Emily Binx (Amanda Shepherd) and the original curse as Gilbert narrates: “If a virgin should light the Black Flame candle on All Hallow’s Eve, with a full moon in the sky, the Sanderson sisters vowed that they would one day return to take revenge on all of Salem.”
A young boy in the crowd, dressed as a pirate, asks, “What’s a virgin?” Gilbert is surprised by the question and everyone murmurs. “That is a – uhh – a person who has never . . . lit a candle,” he finally says, sending the children into a fit of snickering. It’s a cute way to address the weirdness in the original’s plot. Becca also has a line later about how the Sanderson sisters’ obsession with youth is probably just a “misogynistic” comment about ageing.
Later in the movie, Becca and Izzy unwittingly light a new version of the Black Flame candle given to them by Gilbert. Thankfully, no one makes any comments about their virginity or sexual experience, and the movie moves past the harmful tropes of the original. Overall, it’s a nice way to address one of the pricklier parts of the original without falling into the same trap.