Stars: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn, Goran Visnjic. Written by Robin Swicord. Directed by Griffin Dunne. Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense thematic elements and sensuality.

Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) Owens are modern-day witches who would just as soon forget about their notorious heritage. Raised by their two eccentric aunts, Jet (Dianne Wiest) and Frances (Stockard Channing), after their parents’ death, the sisters have eschewed their magic powers in search of a normal life without persecution. Unfortunately, this turns out to be an impossibility when Sally accidentally kills Gillian’s abusive boyfriend (Goran Visnjic).

The pair, fearing for their future, brings the miscreant back to life and then ends up killing him again when it is discovered that death has made him meaner still. Strange things begin to happen around the house shortly after he is buried in their yard. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if it wasn’t for an out-of-state police detective (Aidan Quinn) who comes looking for the missing man. He and Sally hit it off despite his growing suspicion that the sisters are hiding a terrible secret from him.

Although I understand that "Practical Magic" is a big disappointment to fans of the Alice Hoffman novel on which it is based, the film stands on its own as an enjoyable drama. It creates a level of tension that makes one sympathize with its heroines’ predicament while displaying a certain playfulness with its supernatural subject matter. Swept up in the romance and mystery, one is willing to forgive the sudden change of heart displayed by the witches’ neighbors towards the end of the film. Although not suitable for younger audiences, "Practical Magic" is nevertheless ideal Halloween fare.

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