The Witches is clearly not my cup of brew. After critics wondered why we needed a remake of Rebecca, I’m sure many will ask the same question about this film. The Witches (1990), starring Anjelica Huston and Jim Henson puppets, was loved by the critics (93% Rotten Tomatoes), nominated for numerous awards, and hated by author, Roald Dahl, and the public. So, clearly we need more snakes, rats, and mice.
But, at Halloween, is it for children? The Chicago Sun-Times has concerns. “The special effects are first-rate and the performances are way over the top yet entertaining, but ‘The Witches‘ is far too disturbing for young children and not edgy enough to captivate adults.” Perhaps the director should have stayed with the puppets. I give the HBO film 2.0 Gavels and its receives a 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a poor 5.0/10 IMDb score.
In December 1968, Charlie’s parents die in an automobile accident and he goes to live with his grandmother in Alabama. After stumbling onto a witch and barely avoiding a cruel fate, Grandma Agatha tells him that witches are demons in human form. Witches are bald, have claws for hands and clumps for feet. Most of all, Charlie learns witches are real, they live amongst us, and they hate children. Soon, both will meet the most evil of them all, the Grand High Witch.
First, I agree that Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s 8) is way, way over-the-top as the Grand High Witch. On the other hand, Octavia Spencer (Self Made), as Grandma, seems muted, too understated. She is much too calm for a grandma whose grandson is turned into a mouse. I’m not sure if any actor plays the range of roles that Stanley Tucci (A Private War) does. Here, he is a hotel manager, certain that there is no mouse infestation in the Grand Orleans Imperial Island Hotel. Chris Rock is the adult Charlie/narrator, the best of the lot.
Apparently, the original The Witches developed a cult following. There seems nothing cult-worthy about this version. “Clean children smell like poop to witches,” Grandma tells Charlie. She might also warn him that some films also have an odor.
CNN.com thinks The Witches is “a concoction seemingly plucked from the lower rungs of Tim Burton‘s filmography, with eccentricity as the main attraction.” For me, I was ready for the mousetrap to put me out of my misery. I couldn’t wait for it to end.