Movie Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1996 made-for-TV movie starring Melissa Joan Hart and Ryan Reynolds.

Synopsis: Teenager Sabrina moves to Riverdale to live with her aunts and finds it difficult to fit in at her new high school. Shortly after her 16th birthday, she learns she comes from a long-line of witches and begins using her magical powers to improve her social status and get the most popular boy at her school to take her to the Spring Fling dance.


Even though it wasn't a show we watched religiously, my wife and I used to, on occasion at least, watch the show "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." However, up until today, I had never seen the movie that preceded the show. So, when I had an opportunity to do it today and couldn't find anything that looked like a better option, I ended up watching it. Interestingly enough, it turned out to be better than expected.

Some parts of the film were somewhat predictable, which I pretty much guessed would be the case. For example, as soon as she stated using her powers to get her way, I knew, at some point, it was going to backfire on her, either by someone discovering her powers or her hurting someone she cared about. And, when she started using her powers to cheat (for example, making herself faster so she could win at the track meet), it was only digging her in a hole further.

Not to mention, when it came to the whole romance thing, it wasn't too difficult to figure out which guy (the arrogant jock or the nerdy but kind friend) she would ultimately end up with.

That being said, the movie still managed to be surprisingly entertaining. Melissa Joan Hart, much like she was in the series, was fantastic as the title character and played out the good and bad things about being a teenager perfectly. Even my oldest daughter, who I didn't think would want to watch the movie, ended up watching a good portion of it because she is starting to reach a point in her life where she was able to relate.

My only real complaint about the movie is it would have been nice to learn a bit more about her heritage and how she got her powers. Did she need both parents to be magical or just one? Were there bad witches? Are all young witches stupid enough to bring their spell books to school? In other words, while the movie wasn't bad, I think the writers could have spent a bit less time on her romantic endeavors and used that time to give us some more detail about her backstory.

Final Opinion

There are some things about this movie I probably would have changed, at least when it comes to teaching us a little more about her family history. However, as I said before, the film is definitely better than expected and a fun family film if you are looking for one to watch.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 10/10/2015, StevenHelmer
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