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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.26%
Worth A Look: 11.84%
Just Average: 10.53%
Pretty Crappy38.16%
Sucks: 34.21%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Someone, please, make an effort"
2 stars

Movies like "Bewitched" get critics riled up, because you only have to hear "a movie based upon an old sitcom" in order to start railing about how Hollywood has no creativity and is strip-mining pop culture rather than coming up with something new and so on. I think that's just prejudice against television as a medium; you don't hear that so much when a movie is an adaptation of a novel or a play. Besides, one doesn't need that attitude to find "Bewitched" to be a soul-deadening experience.

For some, just seeing the Ephron name in the credits is enough. The Ephron sisters aren't inherently bad writers, I don't think, but I wonder if they've lost touch with their audience. This is a movie that displays no familiarity with the world outside their own circle. Everyone, it seems, is either in the entertainment industry or a witch/warlock able to make the world do his or her bidding at the snap of a finger. Only one or two characters in the film seems like anybody to whom an audience member might have some sort of point of reference, and while it's not strictly necessary for the audience to identify with the characters, those characters should be much more interesting than they are. Of course, that may not be an immediately apparent problem in Hollywood - after all, I'm sure Nora & Delia Ephron can relate to arrogant actors, pushy agents, and put-upon personal assistants just fine.

But aside from that, the movie is just sloppy. It opens with Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) just dropping out of the sky on her broomstick, which is kind of a quaintly symbolic image, but it leads to the question of just where the heck she comes from. Kidman does very well portraying Isabel as a young woman leaving home for the first time, but she is initially so nave and lacking in basic social skills that one has to wonder about the basic circumstances of her upbringing. Do witches generally live in some sort isolated community or parallel dimension; she acts like she's never encountered a normal human being before. She says she wasn't allowed to watch the original Bewitched TV show as a child, which implies she has seen other TV shows and movies, but she doesn't even seem to have that much knowledge of how the world works.

Which, of course, initially makes her an easy mark for Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell), a movie star whose last few pictures were flops, trying to make a comeback playing Darrin in a new version of Bewitched. A producer on the new show, he wants a pretty co-star who can wiggle her nose properly, but won't try to steal his spotlight. He is, of course, outwardly genial but self-centered, and also a mess of insecurities. It's not really one of Ferrell's more noteworthy performances; he calls upon a lot of bits that the audience has seen him do in other movies - the innocent/off-hand lack of interest in other people's problems, the over-eager spaz, the man-child being led or throwing a screaming fit. He's amusing enough, but playing such a generic character that the payoffs to the jokes are often rather small.

Then there are folks just picking up a paycheck. Michael Caine is in the movie as Isabel's father for no particularly good reason other than providing what minimal exposition we're given and being casually insouciant. Seriously, if Nigel Bigelow is any indication, then it appears that the only reason that some witch/warlock doesn't rule the world (given that they can apparently do anything with a thought) is that they are, to a man, extremely lazy. Jason Schwartzman plays Wyatt's agent, because temperamental actors need agents. Kristin Chenoweth plays Isabel's neighbor because she needs another girl to talk to. Shirley MacLaine plays the actress with the part of Endora in a part which would be something like five times funnier if the character's name was "Shirley MacLaine" as opposed to "Iris Smythson". Carole Shelley and Steve Carell show up as "Aunt Clara" and "Uncle Arthur", who I gather were characters in the original show (hey, we didn't have Nick at Night when I was a kid), and exist here in some kind of weird state between being figments of Isabel's and Jack's imaginations and actual existence.

I look at their nebulous state as more evidence of the film's sloppiness. Nothing really has a reason for happening, and I at times got the impression that the movie started out as a straight version of Bewitched, then somehow got changed into this sort of meta-movie, and ideas that the Ephron sisters had come up with for both sort of got thrown into the cauldron, with the logic being that if the audience liked Michael Caine or Steve Carell enough, we wouldn't care how they fit in with the rest of the movie. But nothing fits together: Not the magical types, not the Hollywood types, and not Kidman and Ferrell, who wind up playing likable enough characters individually, but who never give us any reason to want to see Isabel and Jack get together. One doesn't think they would be bad for each other, exactly, but shouldn't a light fantasy aim for something more perfect? A standard romantic comedy can get away with "nice couple", but once a movie has people flying around on broomsticks, should it settle for anything less than "true love"?

I say nay. But this movie doesn't have the necessary ambition to reach higher. "Bewitched" has a great idea at its core - just how would a relationship between an omnipotent woman and a proud man WORK - but director Nora Ephron never comes close to doing anything clever with it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12480&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/24/05 23:40:39
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User Comments

8/17/09 Jeff Wilder Not godawful. But little of real substance. Feels like it could've gone right to video. 2 stars
5/28/09 Samantha Pruitt crappy remake, should have stayed a TV show! 2 stars
1/11/08 Pamela White poor casting all the way around 1 stars
12/01/07 Charles Tatum A movie that couldn't get going, Ferrell is funny, though 3 stars
10/15/06 Ryan_A "I'm a Clippers fan." WTF? No chemistry in the leads, Ephron's clueless re: comedy now... 1 stars
8/27/06 JenDenmark Not the traditional "bewitched" feeling, but the plot was built up in a fun way! 4 stars
7/08/06 drydock54321 why did they have to ruin it. they should have made them the real samantha & darren 1 stars
6/05/06 Carol Baker a film that just wanted to get all the characters in and too much with Darren 3 stars
5/13/06 Ron Green Whay a disapointment! Does not do the original justice. This film is NOT Bewitched! 2 stars
12/30/05 tony No value whatsoever 2 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Ferrell at his worst. His very worst. Kidman isn't that good herself, either. 2 stars
10/26/05 deadwiz slow and predictable, will farrel has lost his sense of humor. 3 stars
10/25/05 Paul Smith One of the worst movies I have ever seen, what was Nicole Kidman thinking 1 stars
10/25/05 Katie Evridge Cute comedy 4 stars
10/20/05 PAG Lame and unfunny 2 stars
10/19/05 odditie EWW 1 stars
10/18/05 the untrained eye Can the word Ephron now be an adjective, as in "a total piece of Ephron?" 1 stars
9/24/05 Alvin Stroud Exactly, Rachel. But do you mean NK's s___ DOES stink??? 2 stars
9/23/05 Rachel Thompson Tedious&Disorganized. Nicole Kidman thinks her shit don't stink. 2 stars
9/18/05 jaypee licaros wala lang gagamitin ko lang sa movie review 5 stars
9/11/05 Dawn I really enjoyed this movie, as I went in knowing it wasn't gonna be like the movie, 5 stars
8/31/05 Lauren it sucks 1 stars
8/29/05 Nick Kraemer tolerable and the $1 theatre 3 stars
8/21/05 Christian Embarrassing without doubt. 2 stars
8/19/05 R. Andrews Terrrible--absolutely dire--unfunny--truly painful! 1 stars
8/10/05 ES Am I the only one getting worn out on Ferrell's 'I'm so crazy and dumb' routine? 1 stars
7/26/05 Atlon Script is going nowhere, irritating overacting 1 stars
7/13/05 Helen Bradley Poor script, overacting, terrible performances except Kidman OK 1 stars
7/11/05 Anne I was bursting with Laughter Will Farrel and Nicole Kidman were a perfect match 5 stars
7/10/05 8=====D will ferral u suck! 1 stars
7/10/05 slanes Very disappointed with the movie. They could have done so much with it and flopped. 2 stars
7/07/05 Uncle Salty "Load of Shit" is too good a rating 1 stars
7/07/05 William Vollmer not great; but not totally gad eithr 3 stars
6/28/05 Jin another dog for Kidman. shes on a roll. 1 stars
6/27/05 katheryne i like it 3 stars
6/26/05 KingNeutron I was looking fwd to it, but expected more. They should have done Endora = her mom "IRL" 3 stars
6/24/05 gerry Entertaining film;great acting by kidman 5 stars
6/20/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble McLanine is genius, the rest is just rehashed doo-doo 3 stars
6/18/05 Ray Not as bad as I thought it would be 4 stars
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  24-Jun-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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