Pop Culture Blind Spot: Practical Magic

I have never seen Practical Magic. This, despite my love for Sandra Bullock (a love so deep I call her Sandy), comfy 90s movies where people wear sweaters, and witchy things. Most of my knowledge about Practical Magic comes from surfing past it on HBO during my childhood, and commercials for Charmed, a TV show about sister witches that is a different thing entirely from Practical Magic. Anyway, it feels like fall here in upstate New York, which means it feels like time for a fall movie… which I assume Practical Magic is, based on the witches.

The Netflix blurb:

Thanks to their powers, things come easy to these sisters… except keeping a man. Alive, that is.

First of all, this is some of the Netflix copy writers’ best work. Second, hard same.

We learn that the women in the Owens family have been witches since puritan New England. Oh, I love this already. If you haven’t gone down a Salem Witch Trials documentary spiral yet, I suggest it. Your YouTube suggestions will get a bit weird for a while but it will be worth it.

There’s a Victorian house, too! [Profiled here on my fav, Hooked on Houses]

The girls move there with their aunts after their dad falls victim to a centuries-old curse. Everyone wears draped, lacy dresses and florals with scarfs and floppy hats and statement earrings, exactly how you’d want witches in a Victorian house to dress. [I already feel a Practical Magic Is My Aesthetic post coming on.]

 

Work those April Cornell catalog vibes, ladies.

Child Sandy Bullock (Sally) looks like adult Sandy Bullock. Child Nicole Kidman (Gillian) does not really look like adult Nicole Kidman, but even casting directors are victims of All Redheads Look Alike Syndrome.

Child Sally, by the way? None other than little Camilla Belle, who actually DOES resemble adult Sandra Bullock these days, now that you mention it.

Adult Camilla

We’ve circled back to the late ’90s, fashion wise, and I like Sally’s straight-leg jeans. She also has one of those sweaters with the big stripe across the middle. REAL thing 90s kids remember: those sweaters with one big stripe across the middle.

IMPORTANT: There’s a scene where This Kiss by Faith Hill plays as Sally falls in love with a handsome man and, over time, marries him and has two kids. Practical Magic and This Kiss have definitely lived in the same mental file folder in my brain for these two decades. Meanwhile, Gillian leaves New England and dances whitely by a pool. Just watch it, it’s the best of comfy ‘normcore’ 90s romcom montages:

Like all of us, Gillian sings the soprano parts of Case Of You while driving and feeling some feelings.

On one hand, Gillian and Sally have a horrible curse wherein every man they love is doomed (RIP Gillian’s husband, Minute 5 – Minute 7, roughly). On the other, they have gorgeous, full blowouts and a bedroom fireplace.

If you didn’t get enough Practical Magic interiors from Hooked on Houses, click on this pic. I’m obsessed.

Whoopsie! The sisters killed a man by accident. He was Jimmy, Gillian’s garbage love interest who she drugged and brought cross country, but don’t feel too bad because he was secretly a killer as well . The gals take a real ad-hoc, non-Hogwarts-approved method of resurrecting him, doing the spell on their ample kitchen island. It doesn’t go great, so now they have to cover up his death. It’s a drag.

It’s not a movie about ‘strong female characters’ (TM Netflix) without a scene where they dance around the kitchen. Just ask Hidden Figures (a movie I loved, for the record).

A longer stretch of this movie than I expected is centered on covering up an accidental death. It’s fine but not what I was expecting. Aidan Quinn arrives to investigate Jimmy’s disappearance but also to fall in love with Sally. He is unusually handsome for someone named Gary. He’s ALSO the dream man Sally described as a child.

The reanimated corpse of Jimmy confronts Hot Gary  in the beautiful attic. I don’t know if witches need money, but they could rent that thing out for some serious bucks.

This is not an attack on anybody named Kylie or who named their daughter Kylie, but man, Kylie is NOT something a witch would name a child. [:Your Kris Jenner joke goes here:] I guess she was born during Sally’s trying-not-to-be-witchy phase.

The witch sisters need to expel Jimmy’s spirit and to do that they need a coven, which is basically like a quorum. Sally does what any small-town single mom would do: activates the school phone tree.

PS guess who Kylie is? A baby Evan Rachel Wood. I had no idea, this whole time. Along with All Redheads Look Alike Syndrome is the related Red Hair Renders You Instantly Unrecognizable Syndrome (hers is dyed, to perpetuate the one brown haired kid/one ginger kid thing her family has going).

She looks exactly like she does now, just with red hair.

In case you were worried, there’s a great witches-with-brooms scene. They just sweep with them, but still. They sweep OUT an evil spirit. The family curse is broken and now Gillian and Sally can fall in love without casualties.

The witches dress up as witches (but stereotypical ones) and fly from their roof on Halloween. The neighbors EAT IT UP. Just as I did this movie. It was cute.

 

P.S.: Not all of the music was by Bonnie Raitt and Mary Chapin Carpenter but it was all LIKE that.

 

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The Parent Trap Is Our Aesthetic

It’s summer, and our aesthetic is The Parent Trap (1998): a rustic cabin in a pine forest, a kicky new summer haircut, a sedate London home, secret twins, a sprawling Napa estate, getting your ears pierced by a child, comfy yet timeless sundresses, midafternoon dips in the pool with your dad’s too-young fiancee, casual camping gear, finding out your parents were totally OK with never seeing one of their children again… The Parent Trap has it all.

Although remakes usually pale in comparison to the original, The Parent Trap is different. The Hayley Mills version is fine, but it’s the Lindsay Lohan adaptation that I go to time and time again. It came out when I was 11 – the same age as Hallie and Annie, and could have passed as their triplet – and although almost two decades have gone by, it feels ageless. It’s no mistake that this is our second “___ Is Our Aesthetic” post featuring a film from Nancy Meyers, romcom queen and kitchen guru extraordinaire: all of her movies feel fresh and current when they come out, and thanks to her use of timeless and playful styling, they stay that way.

The Entire Camp Experience

I never went to sleepaway camp: not rich enough to afford it, nor poor enough for a scholarship (even at 11, I was able to recognize that the Parker-Jameses were seriously loaded). But maybe that’s for the best, because I am free to imagine summer camp exactly as it is in The Parent Trap. Camp Walden is everything you expect in a New England summer camp. Nestled among tall trees, the girls really do bunk in rustic cabins, wake up to bugle calls, eat at a mess hall, swim in a lake, hold unsupervised poker tourneys and engage in elaborate prank wars.  It’s the kind of low-tech, high-fun camp I could imagine generations of the same family attending.

Even the preppy-yet-simple uniforms are great, and those little touches like how Annie always chose the more formal version: the polo shirt instead of the tee, for instance.

To get it out of the way: those twin scenes were filmed with the help of Erin Mackey, Lindsay’s double and now a theater actress, who is sort of the Kathryn Alexandre of the Parent Trap universe:

The Handshake

Annie and her butler Martin have a secret handshake, which Hallie must learn to replicate in order to impersonate Annie. Not sure what is cooler: having a butler, or having a secret handshake.

MAKEOVERS!

Whether it’s The Parent Trap, Clueless, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, She’s All That, or one of our many other throwback favs, we loved a makeover scene 20 years ago and we love them still. There was something so satisfying about Hallie getting the haircut and ear piercing just right… thank goodness.

The Soundtrack!

Not strictly aesthetics, but music is a big part of the timeless summertime vibes in The Parent Trap. I’m not ashamed to say I owned the CD. (Off topic: Mid-to-late 90s: the golden age of movie soundtracks?) The score even has the whimsical, pretty sound of The Holiday, another of our Nancy Meyers favorites, although The Holiday was a Hans Zimmer score and The Parent Trap was Alan Silvestri.

Hallie (And Annie-As-Hallie)’s Relaxed Wardrobe

(Links to a Hallie Parker-inspired look. I always loved those multi-colored beaded bracelets and the plaid shorts and denim jacket combo)

hello, moto jacket.

Hallie is a laid-back Napa girl: she’s outdoorsy and informal, but she wasn’t exactly wearing hand-me-downs like the rest of us poors (not that she could have, as her sister was a secret).

Annie (And Hallie-As-Annie)’s Classic Style

Don’t panic, but the headband matches. This is why I matched my school uniform kilts to a headband with the same plaid. Also because I was a dork.

This is how I’d love to dress my children, who will hate me.

Blair Waldorf’s style inspiration.

Oh, to have Annie’s upper-class, finely-tailored, utterly timeless wardrobe: tweed and Peter Pan collars and A-line dresses as far as the eye can see. If you weren’t one of the fanciest children in all of London town, it was probably just a dream for you, but it was Annie’s reality.

The Napa Ranch

I’m floored Hallie even GOES to camp, because her real home has an in-ground pool, horses to ride, acres of land and a Nancy Myers kitchen. I especially love her lived-in, pretty bedroom:

The London House

Like the girls’ respective wardrobes, Hallie’s is the one you can imagine possibly having in an alternate universe, but Annie’s is the unreachable goal.

[All house images are sourced from and link to a page on Hooked On Houses about the Parent Trap homes. Hooked On Houses has been a favorite of mine since I bought my house – I seriously cannot get enough.]

Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Sandlot

Before you say anything, I KNOW. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW.

In my defense, I think I actually have seen The Sandlot, but wasn’t paying attention because I don’t really remember anything about it. And I’m three decades old. I also confused all the 90s baseball movies (Little League Angels of the Year and the Rookie in the Outfield of Dreams) together, so it bears some refreshing. Plus it’s coming off Netflix streaming and I thought I’d watch it (again?).

Knowledge of this film:

Baseball with kids. A backyard. Something about ‘You’re kiddin’ me Smalls’.

Actual IMDb description:

A new kid in town is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his team in this coming of age movie set in the summer of 1962. Together, they get themselves into many adventures involving rival teams, lifeguards, and a vicious dog.

*I did not remember this was set in 1962.

Question I always ask before talking about one of those 90s baseball movies: Is this the one Scott Patterson (Luke Danes) is in?

Answer: No. He was in Little Big League.

little big league scott

HOLY SMOKES I G2G WATCH THIS BRB

Denis Leary is in this? And James Earl Jones?

Mike Vitar plays main character Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez, and in the back of my mind I knew the name sounded familiar, but he hasn’t acted since 1997. Why did I know his name when this movie has no relevance to me? Oh, because I legit wrote about him being arrested for assault.

Mike quit acting and became an LA firefighter, and last Halloween, he and two other off-duty firefighters allegedly beat up a man. They all plead not guilty in January, but it’s unclear what the verdict if there has been one yet. Yikes.

This movie takes place in the San Fernando Valley aka “The Valley” aka where I live!! …It was all filmed in Utah.

In my head, “The Sandlot” was someone’s backyard and it was next to a crochety old lady like Ellen Burstyn in The Baby-Sitters Club movie.

“Don’t be a goofus!” Scotty Smalls but also my new motto in life.

Scotty ends up in the far outfield in The Sandlot, but when the ball comes flying towards him, he misses it. To make matters worse, it lands right next to the fence with the Cujo-type dog barking and when he throws it back to the pitcher… well, he doesn’t and all the boys laugh at him. At 9 years old, I would’ve found this funny. As a 30 year old, I call this bullying. #Adulting.

We’re eight minutes in, and Scotty has used the phrase “got into the biggest pickle” twice already. Take a shot.

Mom: Honey, I want you to make some friends this summer, lots of them.

Smalls: Yeah, I know. But I’m not good at anything, mom. Face it, I’m just an egghead.

SMALLS IS SO ADORABLE I JUST WANT TO EMBRACE HIM. He also keeps hesitating on what to call his stepdad (Denis Leary) either Bill or Dad and it’s 2QT. I hope BillDad is a good guy. At least he agrees to play catch with Smalls. Except he ends up with a black eye.

Denis Leary looks perfect for the 1960s here

Benny shows up at Smalls’ door and invites him to play ball this is the MOST TENDER.

The kid who’s in The Big Green is in all the 90s sports movies, no? His name is also Hamilton and they all call him ‘Ham’. There’s an opportunity for a crossover here. I just don’t know what it is yet.

SQUINTS: No you don’t. It’s stupid, Benny. The kid’s an L-7 weenie. <<< What does this mean.

Benny has the patience of a saint. After Smalls couldn’t catch the ball, he hits the ball directly at Smalls and tells him not to move and just keep his arm up. And then later:

Benny: You got a fireplace?

Smalls: Yeah, why?

Benny: Throw that hat in there, man. (I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO SAY THAT)

Smalls: Oh, yeah. You know, it was the only one I had.

Benny: Not anymore. Wear my old hat.

What a dream. He is a hero among boys. We all need a Benny in our lives.

“You’re killin’ me Smalls” is in reference to him not knowing what a s’more is? THIS SENTENCE IS JUSTIFIED. I know he’s from out of state but s’mores are an American (??) institution.

Basically this Cujo junkyard is described as a “true killing machine” per this Are you Afraid of the Dark? story from Squints.  Is the neighbor going to turn out to be a really nice dude IRL?

Wendy Peppercorn (IT’S Peffercorn NOT Peppercorn!?!?) slow walks through the town to The Drifters’ There Goes My Baby and I remember this is set in the 1960s. Also, Wendy is the typical babe who is probs 15 and inapprop

“Aw, Squints was pervin’ a dish.” AKA Squints was checking out Wendy Peffercorn?!

Ham also used the word “pop” for “soda”, which is not a think Californians say colloquially.

Squints pretends to drown in order to have Lifeguard Wendy save his life. I really hope kids didn’t try this at home.

This movie is rated PG and they used the word “shit”. Is that a thing? That must be a thing.

“On the 4th of July, the whole sky would brighten up with fireworks, giving us just enough light for a game. We played our best then because, I guess, we all felt like the big leaguers under the lights of some great stadium. Benny felt like that all the time. We all knew he was gonna go on to bigger and better games, because every time we stopped to watch the sky on those nights like regular kids, he was there to call us back. You see, for us, baseball was a game. But for Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life.” Narrator Smalls says, as the boys watch the slow motion fireworks in the night sky with awe. That is some good *shit*.

“You make your Wheaties with your mama’s toe jam!” LOL WHAT, HAM?

HAM IS A BULLY AS THE CATCHER BUT IT IS HILARIOUS. HE’S LIKE HAMILTON IRL

Benny treats the team to a free ride at the carnival. Seriously, what a dream.

Uh oh. One of them brings chewing tabacco. This isn’t going to end well. It’s so gross I can’t even watch it.

First of all, “Tequila” is playing LOL Second of all they go on a spinning tilt-a-whirl type thing and they all vom. On the other riders.

Minute 53 – Narrator Smalls says “pickle”. Take a shot.

Ohhhh no. The boys are in need of a ball after Benny lit’rally smashes it into bits. Smalls saves the day by grabbing the (Babe Ruth) ball from BillDad’s office. Prediction: it flies into the Cujo junkyard and he has to go get it.

Bertram: “Maybe the shock of his first homer was just too much for him” LOL this is a great line coming from a 5th grader.

The ball flies into the Cujo junkyard and Smalls has to go get it.

Cujo’s paw is out of CONTROL.

The boys devise a plan to fake Babe Ruth’s autograph on a separate ball to put in BillDad’s trophy case while they try to get the real one back, and it’s a real case in support of teaching kids cursive in elementary school.

Squints: She ain’t gonna buy that, Benny. It doesn’t look anything like the Babe’s signature.

Benny: It doesn’t matter what it looks like. His mom’s never gonna know the difference. This’ll just buy us some time, ya dorks!

Cujo’s being a real bitch not letting them have this ball back. What’s he gonna do, sell it on eBay? Or whatever it was in the 1960s? A… yard sale?

The dudes actually come up with a pretty ingenius plan involving three vacuums and a catcher’s mitt. That is until it blows up the tree house. Anyways, that didn’t get the ball back either.

“We’ve been going about this all wrong. I blame myself.” These kids, I tell ya.

CUJO IS HUGE-O.  Also he may or may not have rabies.

I can see why this movie was popular with kids aka my generation growing up, particularly with the scenes in which they come up with different ways to get the ball. From the vacuums to an aerial attack using a lever/pulley situation and military style robot they create, it shows creativity while making you sit on the edge of your seat

Hologram Babe Ruth shows up to tell Benny to just go over the fence and get the ball back. He is played by the diner owner in that one Boy Meets World episode where Shawn attempts to run away after his dad dies.

Babe Ruth says “pickle”. Take a shot.

Benny saves the day by jumping over and grabbing the (now mangled?) ball. Except Cujo breaks free from his chain and begins chasing Benny through the streets. Cujo even breaks through a glass window, in a movie theater, through a Founder’s Day festival and underneath Uncle Sam just to follow Benny. This is exhausting.

They end up back in The Sandlot and the fence falls on Cujo, but Smalls, being the good kid that he is, attempts to lift the fence off Cujo, and only Benny helps.

Why does Cujo look like it’s a CGI dog?

Cujo has been secretly hoarding their baseballs! And the owner of the junkyard is a blind James Earl Jones!

They all gang up on Squints because James Earl Jones says he would’ve just gotten it for them if they knocked and didn’t believe the stupid urban myth.

JEJ calls Babe Ruth “George”, so obviously he knows him. He offers to trade Smalls and Benny a ball signed by the 1927 Yankees. Wait IS he blind?? Or going blind?

You guys come by here once a week and talk baseball with me and we’ll call it a deal.

Thank GOD Denis Leary is a nice guy in this.

So we get an epilogue of sorts telling us where each kid ended up, and each one slowly disappears. It’s making me tear up a little? Bertram got really into the 60s and no one ever saw him again (lol), the twins invented mini mall Squints married Wendy Peffercorn?! AND HAD NINE KIDS?!

BENNY PLAYS FOR THE DODGERS NOOOO AND SMALLS IS A COMMENTATOR WEARING THE OLD HAT AND I’M CRYING I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS I’M OLD AND UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF TIME

When one guy would move away,
we never replaced him on the team with anyone else.
We just kept the game going like he was still there.

Well, that final scene made it for me. I get it, you guys. I get it now.

Don’t be buggin’ – it’s Clueless Week!

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 20 years since Clueless arrived in theaters on July 19th, 1995, but we all need to get with the program and accept that we’re all so friggin’ old now. As we near  the anniversary, we’re paying homage to one of the classic films of our generation with an entire week dedicated to the Bettys and Barneys of Beverly Hills. Join us as we take a look at the pop culture refs, fashion, and even elevate your Clueless- watching experience with a mature, adult drinking game. See ya then, homies!