30 June 2005

Bewitched? Not quite.

All the reviews I heard and read warned me that Bewitched was not a very good movie, but I didn't listen. Perhaps I was blinded by my affection for the original series or the prospect of seeing the lovely Nicole Kidman in pretty clothes. Nicole Kidman and magic went together so well in Practical Magic. What could go wrong? Ugh, I had to ask.

Will Ferrell plays Jack, a has-been actor who agrees to star as Darren in a modern version of the beloved TV series "Bewitched". Since that role was basically the straight man on the show, Jack insists that a newcomer be cast as Samantha so that he will be sharing the spotlight as little as possible. Nicole Kidman plays Isabel, a real witch who has been sheltered by her parents and therefore knows very little about the mortal world including the magical TV show. Boy meets girl, boy casts girl in his show, mild giggles ensue.

The TV show-within-a-movie premise was an interesting way to do a remake, but I don't think they did enough with it. The same thing could be said about a lot of the elements of this movie. Instead of committing to one direction, the movie gave me little glimpses of the different ways it could have gone. They could have shown more of Isabel as a fish out of water in mortal society. Several characters from the original show were jumping into real life, but why or how wasn't made clear. The memorabilia from the show is communicating with Isabel, but the audience isn't let in on what is being said. The whole movie felt like a TV pilot with promises of goodies to come.

Then there were the supporting actors that got too little screen time. Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine -- none of them were fleshed out or given enough to do. Amy Sedaris does a perfect impersonation of Mrs. Kravitz but her role was less than two minutes! Michael Caine plays Isabel's father, but I found myself wishing that they had given Isabel an on-screen mother instead because he seemed useless.

One person I could have used a lot less of was Will Ferrell. What made me think that I could sit through 90 minutes of him when I can't even watch a short interview with him? His style of humor reminds me a lot of Jim Carrey, another actor I can't watch. Physical comedy bores me. ABM had the opposite opinion; he could have used more Ferrell and less Kidman. The stylist and set designer are both to be commended because Nicole Kidman's wardrobe and her house were beautiful, but they weren't enough to distract us from the fact that Ms. Kidman was whispering through the whole movie. Several times, Isabel the actress asks Samantha what she would do, but I think Nicole the actress was channeling Marilyn Monroe rather than Elizabeth Montgomery.

All in all, I wish I had waited for the movie to come out on DVD. The worst part is that I only see one or two movies a year in the theatre. Past theatre-worthy movies have been American Beauty and The First Wives' Club, to name a couple. I hate that I added this movie to that list.
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