Monday, 20 April 2015

Movie Review: Bewitched (2005)


A stale attempt to revive a brand from a bygone era, Bewitched makes a feeble effort to uncover new ideas, and finds none.

Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) is an egotistical movie star going through a bad patch. In an attempt to revive his career he agrees to star as the husband Darrin in a revival of the classic 1960s television sitcom Bewitched. He sets out to find an actress to play the key role of Samantha, the cute housewife witch. Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) is a real witch tired of using her bag of tricks to get through life. Despite the protests of her father Nigel (Michael Caine) she wants to be normal, find a career, a man, and settle down. Jack bumps into Isabel at a bookstore. Not knowing that she is a witch he convinces her to audition, and she handily wins the role of Samantha.

With veteran actress Iris Smythson (Shirley MacLaine) cast in the role of Samantha's mom Endora, Jack conceives of the show as being all about him, and contrives to barely give Samantha any speaking roles. Test ratings are miserable, but the audience reacts well to Isabel, and she demands a greater role and more respect. At the same time, Jack and Isabel start to fall in love.

Despite the acting talent involved, Bewitched is remarkably thin on the ground and offers nothing beyond its flimsy premise. There is not enough here to even qualify as a romantic comedy, that most undemanding of sub-genres. The laughs are intermittent at best, Ferrell's childish overacting coming across as more obtuse than funny. The magic is limited and the chemistry non-existent.

Director Nora Ephron, who co-wrote the script, registers her own career low point, many miles away from the fresh and witty material that earned her deserved plaudits for writing When Harry Met Sally... and writing and directing Sleepless In Seattle. Here she displays an abject bankruptcy of ideas both in the script and behind the camera, and the film just dies a wretched death mired in predictability.

Will Ferrell is at his worst, over emoting to distraction, while Nicole Kidman quickly runs out of tricks as the naive but well-meaning witch. Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine are wasted as unnecessary parodies of their late-career screen personas. Steve Carell makes a late appearance and adds an unhelpful does of lunacy.

Bewitched causes a nose twitch, for all the wrong reasons.






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