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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bewitched

Posted on Thu, Jun 23, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Bewitched
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Rated: PG
Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/bewitched/site/
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Steve Carell
Director: Nora Ephron
Screenwriter: Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron, Adam McKay
WorkNameSort: Bewitched

Jimmy the Greek is safe: My prediction for the sleeper hit of the summer has bitten the dust. But really, who wouldn't have been enticed by the story concept of a real-life witch (played by Nicole Kidman) landing the lead role in a remake of TV's venerable broomschtick comedy? The promise of that setup evaporates pretty darn quickly in this typically unctuous Nora Ephron romcom, which chronicles the featherweight sparring/foreplay of two characters any sensible adult would be hard-pressed to care about. Will Ferrell's Jack Wyatt – a down-on-his-luck actor chosen to re-envision the role of Darrin for a new age – is alternately a bastard and a dullard, which hardly rate as leading-man qualities, and Kidman ladles on the self-conscious cutes as the sub-Samantha sorceress, Isabel Bigelow, whose incredible naiveté borders on mild retardation. A bizarro subplot that casts Shirley MacLaine as the new Endora gets totally lost amid the marginally comprehensible script's structureless thrashing. The only elements that really work are the supporting cast's spot-on imitations of Bewitched series vets like Paul Lynde and Marion Lorne – suggesting that director/co-writer Ephron should have ditched the "meta" angle entirely and made the movie a straight-up cop. Then again, when a big summer release is at its personal best slavishly aping a TV show of some four decades previous, you can really hear the rental bins a-callin'.

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