Practical Magic is a 1998 romantic comedy film based on Alice Hoffman's 1995 novel of the same name, directed by Griffin Dunne, starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Aidan Quinn and Goran Visnjic.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

A young witch named Maria Owens is exiled to Maria's Island in Massachusetts with her unborn child for escaping her execution. When her lover does not come to rescue her, she desperately casts a spell upon herself to stop falling in love due to heartbreak, only to die soon after.

The spell becomes a curse for several generations. Gillian and Sally Owens, two descendants of the Owens family, are taken in by their aunts Frances and Jet after the death of their parents. Sally is the more gifted of the two while Gillian's talents are more in charm and persuasion, and have been subject to ridicule during their youth.

After witnessing their aunts cast a spell on a man for a woman who seems obsessed with having his love, Gillian decides to fall in love and Sally casts a true love spell to protect herself. The sisters cast an oath to each other using blood from both of their hands and Gillian leaves for Los Angeles. Sally meets and marries Michael, a local apple salesman.

Years later, the two open their botanical shop Verbena and have two young daughters, Kylie and Antonia. Michael is killed after being hit by a truck. Sally and her daughters return to the Owens home to live with the aunts & realize that the aunts cast a spell so she could fall in love.

Sally decides that she and her daughters will not perform magic. As Gillian begins a relationship with Jimmy Angelov in Orlando, Sally is devastated by her husband's death. Gillian feels that Sally needs her and drugs Jimmy to return to Massachusetts.

Gillian returns to Sally after Jimmy becomes abusive, but the sisters are kidnapped. Sally puts belladonna into Jimmy's tequila, inadvertently killing him. The sisters resurrect him using the forbidden spell from their aunts' book of spells, but Jimmy attempts to kill Gillian after being revived. Sally kills him again, and the sisters bury his remains in their home's garden.

State investigator Gary Hallett arrives from Tucson, Arizona in search of Jimmy, who is also a serial killer. As Gary begins to suspect Sally, Gillian, Kylie and Antonia create a potion to banish Gary; however, the girls realize he is the one described in Sally's true love spell, and remove the potion.

Later, Sally has Gary record her testimony and sees the letter she had once written Gillian and realizes he must have read it more times than he had let on. Unable to deny their feelings for each other, they kiss and Sally realizes that he was there because of the spell she cast years earlier.

Sally discovers that Jimmy's spirit has possessed Gillian's body and Gary sees Jimmy's spirit emerge. Jimmy attempts to possess Gary, only to be hurt by his silver star-shaped badge and is temporarily exiled.

Later, Sally tells Gary that he is there because of her spell and the feelings they have for each other are not real. Gary replies that curses are only true if one believes in them and reveals that he also wished for her, before returning to Tucson.

Jimmy possesses Gillian again and attempts to kill Sally before Frances and Jet return. Sally, realizing she must embrace magic to save her sister, asks the aid of the townswomen and they form a coven to exorcise Jimmy's spirit. Sally makes them stop when she sees that the effort might kill Gillian.

Getting inside the circle, Sally and the townswomen reenact her oath with Gillian. They are able to break the Owens curse, exorcising Jimmy's spirit and allowing the coven to exile him permanently. Sally receives a letter from Gary telling her that she and her sister are cleared of any suspicion of wrongdoing in Jimmy's case and Gary returns to Massachusetts to be with Sally.

The Owens women celebrate All Hallow's Eve dressed up in witch costumes, and are embraced and welcomed by the townsfolk.


  • Sandra Bullock as Sally Owens
  • Nicole Kidman as Gillian Owens
  • Goran Visnjic as James "Jimmy" Angelov
  • Stockard Channing as Aunt Frances Owens
  • Dianne Wiest as Aunt Bridget "Jet" Owens
  • Aidan Quinn as Investigator Gary Hallet
  • Caprice Benedetti as Maria Owens
  • Evan Rachel Wood as Kylie Owens
  • Alexandra Artrip as Antonia Owens
  • Mark Feuerstein as Michael
  • Lora Ann Criswell as Young Gillian Owens
  • Camilla Belle as Young Sally Owens
  • Peter Shaw as Jack
  • Caralyn Kozlowski as Regina
  • Chloe Webb as Carla
  • Lucinda Jenney as Sara
  • Margo Martindale as Linda Bennett
  • Martha Gehman as Patty


The movie was partially filmed on an artificial set in California. The filming dates took place from February 2nd to May 9, 1998.

The film's producers said the house was a big part of the depiction of the Owens' culture, so they knew they had to build a house to accurately depict this. They built it on Coupeville, Washington.

They brought much of the set from California and placed it inside the house, but it still took almost a year to perfect the image of the house and the interior.

The house used is owned by the Sundstrom Family and is located on San Juan Valley Road, San Juan Island. They built a replica of the outside of the house on the west side of San Juan Island so that it looked like the house was on the waterfront, but in actuality it is in the valley.

They built the house in San Juan County Park, but since the house was built only for this filming, it was torn down after the movie was released.

Many of the small town scenes were filmed in downtown Coupeville Washington located on Whidbey Island.

According to Sandra Bullock in the DVD commentary, in the scene where the Owens women are drunk and slinging insults, the actresses actually got drunk on very bad tequila brought by Kidman.

The cast also thinks that the supernatural elements of the house started to affect them; the cast and crew say that they have heard ghost noises while filming the coven scene at the end of the film.

For the final scene with all of the townspeople at the Owens' home, the entire population of the town where filming took place was invited to show up in costume and appear as townsfolk.

Box OfficeEdit

"Practical Magic" opened at #1 at the box office, grossing $13,104,694 during its opening weekend.

It went on to gross $68.3 million worldwide which was less than its $75 million production budget.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Practical Magic" received negative reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 20% approval rating, based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10 and the site's consensus states: "Comedy, romance and humor mix with unsatisfying results".

Metacritic calculated an average rating score of 55 based on 22 reviews.

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a negative review, calling it "a witch comedy so slapdash, plodding, and muddled it seems to have had a hex put on it".

Roger Ebert said that the film "doesn't seem sure what tone to adopt, veering uncertainly from horror to laughs to romance."


1999 American Comedy Awards

  • Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Dianne Wiest (nominated)

1999 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Supporting Actress- Comedy\Romance: Stockard Channing (won)
  • Favorite Actor- Comedy\Romance: Aidan Quinn (nominated)
  • Favorite Supporting Actress- Comedy\Romance: Dianne Wiest (nominated)
  • Favorite Song From a Movie (for Faith Hill's song "This Kiss") (nominated)

Young Artist Awards 1999

  • Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress: Camilla Belle (nominated)
  • Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress: Evan Rachel Wood (nominated)

Theatrical TrailerEdit

Practical Magic Trailer

Practical Magic Trailer

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