4 out of 10
Bothering and Bewildering
'Tis the season of remakes, from "Miami Vice" to "Starsky & Hutch," 1970's tv is hitting the big screen with mixed results. Lacking the tacky polyester style or the clean, lighthearted storylines of the originals, these new versions are often not much like their hip, nostalgia-inducing relations but instead are tepid and poor versions of the original classics. "Bewitched," unfortunately for fans of the charming 1960's sitcom created by Sol Saks starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick Sargent, is not much different.
Written and directed by Nora ("When Harry Met Sally," "You've Got Mail") and Delia Ephron, the much-altered tale opens with real life witch Isabelle Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) swearing to her father (Michael Caine) that she will never to use magic again. Attempting to start over magic-free on her own in the big city, she has the misfortune to come across down-and-out, recently divorced actor Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) who is searching for the perfect woman to star in a new series - a remake of the tv show "Bewitched." Catching sight of Bigalow's perfect nose, he begs to cast her as Samantha, but to her dismay he does so not because of her talent, but only in the hopes of resuscitating his career by casting a unknown in the part to make himself look talented. Infuriated, Isabelle takes her revenge and Wyatt suddenly finds himself in a real-life version of the tv series.
While the costumes by Mary Zophres ("The Ladykillers") are classy and the acting is undoubtably good, the story is the weak point and eventually collapses, dooming the production to failure. Kidman, who is not often seen in comedic roles, is impressively charming and likeable as Isabelle and Ferrell is winsome and humourous as usual - and for once seen in a more likeable role - appears to relax into his part. Appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine and Jason Schwartzmann also add depth but even they do not manage to pull the picture out of it's dotty and ill-arranged storyline.
Never really explaining Isabelle's past or giving much background to her character, the picture often feels unresolved and pointless and is made worse with hokey appearances of Aunt Clara (Carol Shelley), Uncle Arthur (Steve Carrell) and some other so-bad-as-to-be-unmentionable supporting performances. Beyond that it has little to do with the actual series, which was disappointing, it is in the end completely mired by it's lack of focus and development. As Isabelle takes on Wyatt, things go bad to worse, with "Bewitched" almost making Kidman's previous project "The Stepford Wives" look like an Oscar winner.
Somewhat watchable if you are in the mood for very light to the point of brittle entertainment and have a remote control to forward through the unbearable bits, otherwise skip this and rent the original series on dvd.
Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies