While its trailers make you believe the small screen gem has been reincarnated from its TV Land graveyard, those expecting a proper big screen revival will be sorely disappointed. In fact, the sisters Ephron have carefully crafted a film that tries and succeeds at not resembling the original. Too bad the parts they took out are all the best bits. The finished product is new and different, but it's too predictable and remarkably devoid of anything entertaining or enduring.
After a nasty break-up with his wife and several failed attempts to revive his floundering film career, washed up actor Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) is ready to take his life back. Jack believes that his role as Darren in the upcoming modern day remake of the classic Bewitched television show is just the break he needs. The egotistical star insists that the show focus solely on him and not on his wife Samantha and her magical powers. Jack is adamant that his co-star be an unknown actor that will not attract the attention he thinks he deserves.
Jack assumes the role of casting director, and soon finds the right not-so-leading-lady who can wiggle her nose the best. Her name is Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman). Only she's not an actor, she's an actual witch! What are the chances? Yet, Isabel isn't interested in exposing her true identity. She's come to live amongst the mortals because she's tired of being a witch and wants to feel like every other woman. Isabel's father Nigel (Michael Caine) calls her role on the show an insult to their way of life, but Isabel's excited about the part because it makes her feel needed.
Unfortunately for Isabel, it is quickly apparent that she is not needed. The show is completely dominated by Jack. The cameras focus longingly on him, while she's relegated to a spot in the corner of the set. Isabel's given no speaking lines, and the director (David Alan Grier) carefully walks her through each scene several times before they film, as if she were an idiot. Isabel's dressing room is a broom closet compared to Jack's palatial trailer. Even the show's opening credits give Jack all the glory: Isabel's face is hidden by black smoke. This is not Bewitched, it's The Jack Show.
Bewitched, the movie, suffers from the same problem that plagues the filming of the television show it depicts. It's The Will Show, as Ferrell is given way too much latitude. His obnoxious overacting, while effective in Old School and The Anchorman, this time feels re-hashed and tired. Bewitched serves not as a tribute to the original, but as yet another platform for Ferrell to flail his arms, make goofy faces, run around naked, and speak like an uneducated fool. I understand that this is his shtick, and if that's the kind of comedy that turns you on, then you've hit the jackpot. It simply feels way out of place in a remake of a harmless TV show from 40 years ago.
The focus of the classic television show was on Samantha, but Kidman is overpowered by Ferrell's dominating presence. There are very few scenes in this Bewitched where Kidman is allowed to use her abilities to get the best of Ferrell. I counted only three, which just so happens to correspond to the number of times I laughed during the 110 minute running time. And because of the film's one-sidedness, precious little time is given to veterans Caine and Shirley Maclaine (as Endora) to elevate their minuscule roles. No amount of spells or hocus pocus can turn this befuddled re-creation of the classic into something worth watching.
Lots of extras on the DVD, including commentary from Ephron, a trivia track, deleted scenes, three featurettes, and a witch game.
I vant to drink your blood!
Run time: 102 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th June 2005
Box Office USA: $62.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $63.3M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 139
IMDB: 4.8 / 10
Director: Nora Ephron
Starring: Nicole Kidman as Isabel Bigelow, Will Ferrell as Jack Wyatt, Shirley MacLaine as Iris Smythson / Endora, Michael Caine as Nigel Bigelow, Jason Schwartzman as Ritchie, Kristin Chenoweth as Maria Kelly, Heather Burns as Nina, Jim Turner as Larry, Stephen Colbert as Stu Robison, David Alan Grier as Jim Fields, Michael Badalucco as Joey Props, Carole Shelley as Aunt Clara, Steve Carell as Uncle Arthur, Katie Finneran as Sheila Wyatt, James Lipton as Himself, Brittany Krall as Auditioning Actress
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