Starring: Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Michael Caine, Shirley MacClaine, Jason Schwartzman
Director: Nora Ephron
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to screw up a TV-to-film adaptation. We’ve all seen it done numerous times in the past - including the abominable remake of “The Honeymooners” earlier this month - but somehow, the producers of “Bewitched” take the cake with their absurd re-imagining of the classic television series. While it may seem insane to even try to tackle such a feat, director/co-writer Nora Ephron has gone one step further in completely altering the slapstick ambiance of the original. The result is a carelessly produced romantic comedy that takes its “Nick at Night” fan base for granted and relies too heavily on the star status of its lead actors.
Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) is not very different from the fictional character of Samantha from the television series. She’s a genuine witch with special powers and an encyclopedia of spells, but she wants nothing more than to live a normal life, complete with a fairy tale husband that will accept her for who she is. Enter Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell), an arrogant movie star whose career has taken a nosedive. In an attempt to resurrect his career, Jack agrees to star in a remake of the “Bewitched” television show, but requests an unknown actress to play his TV wife so that he can bathe in all of the glory.
Isabel unknowingly nabs the role with her trademark nose wiggle during a chance run-in with Jack at the local bookstore, and the two quickly form a chemistry almost identical to that of their TV characters. Before long, the witch who was once trying to give up her witch lifestyle, is now playing one on TV, and her father (Michael Caine) completely disapproves. Confident that love only exists so that it can later knock you down, Isabel’s father warns her not to get involved with the self-centered actor, but once she discovers Jack’s true intentions on her own, she unleashes her broom-riding fury with the help of a few friends.
“Bewitched” starts off great, with Kidman radiating a flurry of girl-next-door charm as she acquaints herself with her new surroundings, but once Ferrell is thrown into the mix, the films falls flat on its face. The script is utterly destructive to the final product, stretching about thirty minutes of actual plot into a hundred-minute film, and padded extensively with silly filler material. Most of the acting in the film is uninspired, and despite their early on-screen chemistry as father and daughter, not even big names like Kidman or Caine can save this from quickly disappearing from theaters in a puff of smoke. It’s a bit unsettling to think that this could be considered as one of the bigger summer movies this year, but I’m not giving up hope on July. For the time being, don’t get tricked into paying to see “Bewitched,” no matter how many times the Aussie beauty wiggles her nose.
The widescreen DVD release of “Bewitched” is a decent single-disc effort that offers plenty of special features for the few people who actually enjoyed this movie. Highlighting the bonus material is a full-length audio commentary with writer/director Nora Ephron and three behind-the-scenes featurettes. Also included on this DVD are six deleted scenes, a “Bewitched” trivia game, and a Witch Vision trivia track.