Bewitched movie review, Nora Ephron, Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'Bewitched'
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2 stars
90 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, June 24, 2005
Directed by Nora Ephron

Starring Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Carole Shelley, Kristin Chenoweth, Amy Sedaris, Heather Burns, Stephen Colbert, David Alan Grier, Steve Carell, James Lipton

 Will Ferrell (2003)
Jason Schwartzman (2002)

  • Rehashed TV shows
  • Nora Ephron
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Will Ferrell
  • Shirley MacLaine
  • Michael Caine
  • Jason Schwartzman
  • Heather Burns
  • David Alan Grier
  • Steve Carell

  •  LINKS for this film
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    Despite her gift for garnering giggles, the actress makes another poor comedic choice with bungled 'Bewitched'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Campy-revamp remakes and Nicole Kidman just don't mix.

    But the problem is not the actress's performances. She added bite and ironic melodiousness to last year's slapdash, self-destructing "The Stepford Wives," and she keeps the new self-aware, big-screen version of "Bewitched" afloat with her delightful spark of perky naiveté as a witch trying to live a mortal life. She has a deftly silly sense of comedic balance and timing.

    The problem is, when she's just looking to have some fun between dramatic roles, the girl can't pick a script.

    Like "The Stepford Wives," this new comedy is a mess at the screenplay level. It changes mood, direction and (like "Wives") the rules of its own reality in every other scene. The plot is sloppy and structurally unsound. Fictional characters from the original "Bewitched" come to life in single scenes for no explored reason ("The Daily Show's" Steve Carell is bloody awful as queeny Uncle Arthur) -- and this happens even though the bulk of the meta-cinema plot takes place in real-world Hollywood. You see, Kidman plays an actual witch who becomes an actress and gets cast as TV sorceress Samantha Stevens in a network remake of the titular 1960s sitcom.

    Will Ferrell, doing a slight variation on his stock vulnerably childish egomaniac routine, plays a vulnerably childish egomaniac movie star whose career is in a tailspin, so he takes the role of Darren, Samantha's flabbergasted mortal husband, but demands that the new show be retooled to revolve around him. He's well cast, but no less obnoxious than usual.

    Through a series of unlikely misunderstandings, Kidman falls for this superficial idiot, uses her powers to humble him, goes on a peppy-pop-song date montage, then reverses her curses because she realizes that love must come from within...blah, blah, blah.

    Writer-director Nora Ephron ("Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail") and her co-writer sister Delia seem to view Kidman's powers as a metaphor for women who think they can fix men and break them of bad habits. But they do nothing to dispel this myth. "Bewitched" has the same insulting message as most trite romantic comedies: Lower your standards, girls, because accepting apologies for preventable bad behavior is as close as you'll ever get to having a good man.

    "Bewitched" has many good laughs as Kidman's normality-seeking, endearingly wide-eyed innocent (she gets a thrill out of making microwave popcorn instead of conjuring it up with a finger snap) navigates the sycophantic- and shark-infested seas of mortal Hollywood. Michael Caine, Kristin Chenoweth (from the Broadway hit "Wicked") and Shirley MacLaine garner some laughs as Kidman's interfering father, hyperactively perky next-door neighbor and a secretly witchy diva cast on the show as Endora, Samantha's interfering mother.

    But the movie switches gears so many times that it severely shorthands several character arcs. One minute Ferrell is running away from Kidman, freaked out by discovering she's a real witch. The next, he's crying into a pillow about how much he misses her, even though there's nothing preventing him from driving to her house to patch things up.

    Ephron was clearly more interested in forming a plot around pre-determined jokes than she was in finding the humor in a good story, and her out-of-whack priorities are what hex "Bewitched."

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