Review: Bewitched (2005)

Bewitched

Bewitched

Rating



Director

Nora Ephron

Screenplay

Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron

Length

102 min.

Starring

Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Heather Burns, Steve Carell

MPAA Rating

PG-13 (For some language, including sex and drug references, and partial nudity)

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Review

The enchanted television series Bewitched is a popular icon. Its popularity during its original run has generated a cult following through syndicated re-runs. Like so many others, pop culture has gotten a hold of it and made it into a movie. And, like those many others, this adaptation is unimpressive.

Nicole Kidman stars as Isabel Bigelow a real witch who has spurned her father Nigel (Michael Caine) and decided to go “mortal” and join the real, non-wizarding world. When she steps into the real world, she takes on various everyday tasks that would easily be done through magic had she not taken a vow to never use her powers. However, temptation is what it is, and she is soon using her abilities to take small short cuts.

In this way, she’s precisely like Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) in the original T.V. series. The major difference here is that, in the film, the television series is real and it’s about to be remade for television. Jack Wyatt (Will Farrell) has agreed to help resurrect his acting career after a disastrous black-and-white spectacle bomb by starring in the remake as hopelessly mortal Darrin. The problem is, to make him seem more attractive as the lead, they need to find an unknown to play Samantha.

They look high and low for someone who can do the trademark nose-wiggle but to no avail. That is until Jack is strolling through a bookstore and happens across Isabel wagging her nose. After a long, non-romantic courtship, she agrees to star in the show much to her detriment as she’s relegated to a position as side-show freak.

This version of Bewitched has a few hilarious moments. The problem is that the least funny ones are when director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail ) allows not-so-funnyman Farrell (Saturday Night Live ) to run amok. Every scene in which he prances across the screen and cracks witless jokes, you have to cringe from the sheer monstrosity. He pays a great disservice to the memories of Dick York and Dick Sergeant who each played the original’s Darrin.

Kidman (To Die For and Moulin Rouge ) has a luster that’s only tarnished when she shares the screen with Farrell. Otherwise, and especially when with girl pals Maria (Kristin Chenoweth) and Nina (Heather Burns), she’s funny, charming and altogether appealing. The reason the scenes with these three women work is because sister screenwriters Nora and Delia Ephron understand women’s interpersonal relationships. However, that’s the limit to their understanding with Bewitched. They made Samantha into an empowered woman but then relegate her to love-struck girl by the film’s end.

Review Written

August 10, 2005

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