review for The Witches of Eastwick on AllMovie

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
by Perry Seibert review

Whatever one thinks of the possibly sexist overtones in the film, there is little doubt that The Witches of Eastwick is a tour de force for Jack Nicholson as horny little devil Daryl Van Horne. Sure he has big showy scenes, like the closing monologue in the church, but watch his interplay with each of the three lead actresses to see a talented actor at the top of his game. With Cher's Alex he is direct, with Sarandon's Jane he is passionate, and with Pfeiffer's Sukie he is gentle. That he can make each of these seductions different, but believable, shows the range and skill of a performer often underestimated by a public who thinks of "Jack" as a celebrity first and an actor second. The actresses who play these scenes with him are, for the most part, up to the challenge. Sarandon, shedding the pinched, matronly look of the beginning of the film for a passionate wild-woman, seems to be having the most fun. Pfeiffer is delicate and vulnerable without coming across as mousy or helpless. She makes it easy to believe that Daryl actually does soften when he is near her. Cher invests Alex with a feistiness the audience normally associates with the actress, but she suffers because Daryl seduces her by being even more feisty. Once she succumbs, she has been beaten at her own game and recedes slightly as a character because of it. There is not much to recommend in the film apart from the performances. The screenplay reveals its schematic structure early on and never figures out how to get out of the route it has established. The special effects-laden finale seems terribly out of place considering the strength of the film is in the performances. However, the dénouement, with Daryl's face on a large television monitor, talking to his three infant sons, does a good job of reminding the audience what was best about this interesting hybrid of supernatural romance and horror.