Bewitched


Directed by: Nora Ephron
Written by:Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron, Adam McKay
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth
Released: July 7, 2005
Grade: A-

This film could have been a complete disaster.  I’m tired of seeing unoriginal TV remakes litter the big screen.  Thankfully for us all, writer-director Nora Ephron has flipped the concept on its head and crafted a surprisingly distinctive motion picture.

Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) is a well-known movie actor who is going through a slump.  On the recommendation of his agent, Ritchie (Schwartzman), Jack has agreed to play the role of Darren in a modern-day television remake of Bewitched.  This doesn’t sit too well with Jack as he knows it was Samantha’s character who was the most popular and beloved in the original series.  He’s determined to make sure that this time around, Darren will have the biggest part.

His first step is to cast a completely unknown actress in the leading role.  It all comes together for Jack when at a bookstore, he finds Isabel Bigelow (Kidman).  She has the perfect nose wiggle and soon finds herself as the lead actress in a high-profile television show.

What Jack doesn’t know of course is that Isabel really is a witch!  Isabel has grown tired of magic tricks and against the wishes of her father, Nigel (Caine), has decided to try to live a life with out them.  Most importantly, she wants to find someone who will love her for who she is and not have to resort to hexes and magic potions to woo them.

The fact that Isabel now finds herself acting in a role which mirrors her own life is beautifully ironic and one of the reasons I enjoyed the film so much.  It’s an insanely funny mix of fantasy and reality and this contrast really provides a lot of good humour.  It reminded me of 2000’s Shadow Of The Vampire which had director F.W. Murnau directing a vampire movie only to find his lead actor really was a vampire and was eating some of the cast and crew.

The only small flaw in the story was the ending.  It’s rushed and we don’t get to see what happens to many of the supporting cast (particularly Shirley MacLaine who plays Endora on the show).  I have no doubt these scenes were filmed and can only assume they were left on the cutting room floor.

Nicole Kidman’s over-the-top sweetness is a touch annoying but you’ll adore her by the end.  The real star though is Will Ferrell.  He has a great, sarcastic sense of humour and I’m only just starting to realise just how talented he is.  What I like most is that he delivers amazing one-liners whilst staying completely in character.  He’ll say something right out of left field that you won’t see coming.  Comedy is such a hard genre to be consistently good in but if you’ve watch Melinda & Melinda, Anchorman, Starsky & Hutch, Zoolander, Austin Powers 2 and A Night At The Roxbury, you’ll see Will Ferrell at his best.

Previous films from director Nora Ephron have included You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless In Seattle.  If you’re therefore thinking this is another “chick flick”, you can cast aside your misgivings.  The casting of Ferrell with Kidman should see the film appeal to both the male and female audience.