Hello unicorns! Today, I'd like to delve into a trend that's pretty popular these days - reboots. While many are simply retreads of earlier films, occasionally, this provides an opportunity to refresh the narrative by introducing and delving into new themes, contexts, and characters. Nonetheless, it's important to note that many strongly prefer the original versions, as many adaptations fail to capture the magic of the originals. Such is the case with what we're about to examine on the Unicorn Scale. By the way, if this is your first time here, and you have no idea how we rate, you can check out our metrics here.
Young Witches: New Sisterhood is not only a sequel to the original film, but also a reboot of the story to set it years later in a current era, including topics such as sisterhood, feminism, and the LGBT community as well. It manages to break stereotypes and opens the conversation about bisexuality and acceptance. The plot is the same, four teenage aspiring witches get more than they bargained for as they discover their new powers. By the way, I have to warn you that there will be SPOILERS for the 2020 installment. So if you haven't seen it yet, continue at your own risk.
The film unfolds two decades after the original events, with three young aspiring witches - Frankie (Gideon Adlon), Tabby (Lovie Simone), and Lourdes (Zoey Luna) - coming together to perform a ritual using their newfound magical abilities to freeze time. However, this ritual necessitates a fourth witch, prompting their quest to find an individual with similar gifts. In the midst of this, we meet Lily (Cailee Spaeny), who moves in with her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan), her mother's new boyfriend Adam Harrison (David Duchovny), and his three teenage children.
Lily's first day at school takes a rough turn as her classmates openly mock her for a classroom incident involving her period. While hurrying to the restroom, she strikes up an unexpected friendship with the three young witches forming the coven. Recognizing Lily's abilities, especially after she demonstrates telekinesis, they invite her to join as the fourth member. The stage is set for them to gather in a magical circle and harness the elemental powers, unlocking their true potential as a group.
What I Liked:
In the original story, feminine power is central, but in this new version, feminism gains even more prominence. The coven is portrayed as they uncover their powers and confront the repercussions of wielding them, highlighting the profound sisterhood among them. Director and screenwriter Zoe Lister-Jones felt it imperative to amplify the voices of trans women. This led to the creation of the character Lourdes as a trans character right from the outset, and the role was entrusted to the talented actor Zoe Luna.
On a different note, one aspect that I found particularly intriguing is the dismantling of stereotypes and clichéd characters, such as the classic school bully. In this case, it's Timmy Andrews, played by Nicholas Galitzine, who breaks the mold. Timmy is not your typical unintelligent jock who revels in mocking and ridiculing others. He targets Lily for a rather embarrassing incident in class – her period. This incident prompts the girls to cast a spell on him with the intention of helping him become a better person.
The result is a profound transformation in Timmy's character, a sort of "deconstructed Timmy". He evolves into someone who genuinely enjoys spending time with the girls as friends, actively discourages inappropriate comments from other boys, assumes the role of designated driver at parties, and even lends a hand in the kitchen. What struck me most was how Timmy became open about his sexuality and emotions. He expresses his concerns and sadness after having an intimate encounter with a friend, who happens to be one of Lily's mother's boyfriend's children. It's at this moment that it becomes clear that Timmy is attracted to both men and women.
What I Didn't Like:
My dissatisfaction with the representation of bisexuality in this film stems from the cursory and fleeting nature of the character's coming out. Timmy's stereotypical portrayal would have benefited from more in-depth exploration. This issue isn't exclusive to Timmy; much of the movie leaves important aspects unexplained. While the film's premise centers around witches and teenage girls, it has the opportunity to delve into the complexities of young women navigating our contemporary world. However, each time it approaches these themes, another character immediately demands attention. The problem persists because there are too many characters vying for screen time. With the coven, Helen, Adam, their three kids, Timmy, and the mean girls at school, it's challenging to maintain focus without sacrificing elements of the storyline.
Moreover, there are many situations in the film that lack coherence and remain unexplained, leaving viewers puzzled. Regarding trans representation, it's disappointing that Lourdes is given little emphasis, especially when the intention was to create a space for the exploration of femininity. This limitation hinders the film's ability to meaningfully address this important theme.
I've decided to give it a 2 unicorn rating. Speaking of clichés, something that is very common in re-adaptations, particularly of cult classic films, is that the new versions are not good at all. And this is precisely what happened here, the failure of the director and writer to bring to the screen relevant themes such as delving into bisexuality. The characters lack depth and well-defined personalities. I believe the film could have been greatly improved by focusing on the group instead of introducing a clutter of additional characters. While it's commendable that the character of Timmy challenges stereotypes and provides representation for different personalities who are bi, the film, like all its characters, falls short in exploring their backgrounds and self-discovery.
"We are the weirdos, mister."