2005 - PG-13 - 102 Mins.
|Director: Nora Ephron
|Producer: Penny Marshall
|Written By: Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron, and Adam McKay
|Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Shirley MacLaine
|Review by: Joe Rickey
|Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/bewitched/site/
Nora Ephron, who made the charmingly romantic 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'You've Got Mail,' with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan would seem to be a near perfect choice to helm the film version of the 1960's sitcom "Bewitched", which detailed the lives of a witch and those around her. It was a trifle of a program, light and often rife with slapstick and the occasional romance. In other words, exactly down Ephron's alley and seemingly a good career move for a director in need of redemption after the almost unforgivable mishap that was 2000's 'Lucky Numbers.'
Absolutely love the get-up
Well, it was not to be as 'Bewitched' is almost as pathetic a motion picture as the aforementioned Travolta vehicle and one that wastes the talents of both Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in its very meta story of a down but not out actor (Ferrell) who steers a remake of the "Bewitched" television series. He asks for and gets an unknown cast as Samantha to his Darren in the form of Isabel Bigelow (Kidman). What he doesn't know is that she's a real-life witch who doesn't take well to being shoved to the side so Darren can become the show's focal point. Hijinks of a decidedly witchcraftian variety ensue along with a completely unnecessary romantic subplot.
What writer-director Ephron (who wrote the screenplay with sister Delia) presents as an update to the classic television series is a pitiful showcase of a director completely in over her head. In her attempt to be oh so clever (It's a movie about the update of a series, not simply a retelling of said series) she has created a film with two central characters who can't help but be unlikable (a cardinal sin in a romantic comedy). Ferrell's Jack Wyatt/Darren is portrayed as the stereotypical ego-centric actor who wants everything to be about him all the time. Meanwhile, Kidman's Isabel is drawn as a persona so incredibly inept (much is made of her inability to hook up a VCR correctly) in most every way possible that she desires a man who can help her do most everything (didn't such a portrayal of femininity go out of style decades ago?). What's worse is that every other character is even more thinly-drawn so that they appear as little more than transparent ciphers, the likes of which include Wyatt's agent (Jason Schwartzman), Isabel's assistant (Kristin Chenoweth), and Isabel's disapproving father (Michael Caine).
It then shouldn't be much of a surprise that the actors are unable to bring much to their respective roles as even the normally likeable Kidman and Ferrell seem at a loss much of the time. Ferrell in particular only seems at home when he is ranting and raving, situations that point rather clearly towards improvisation (these happen to represent the few moments of hilarity in the film).
If all was right in the world, a spell would be cast over anyone thinking of viewing 'Bewitched' so that they find a better use of their time and money.