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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.26%
Worth A Look: 11.84%
Average: 10.53%
Pretty Bad38.16%
Total Crap: 34.21%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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by Lybarger

"It’s got some special effects, but the magic’s in short supply."
2 stars

If you’ve ever seen an interview with or heard an audio commentary track by writer-director Nora Ephron, it’s obvious that she’s a sharp and perceptive woman. Curiously, except for the excellent screenplay she co-wrote for “Silkwood” and in some moments during “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” little of the wit in her essays shows up in her films.

Her movies like “You’ve Got Mail,” “Lucky Numbers” and “Mixed Nuts” are littered with sketchy characters, flat gags and lifeless stories. Worse, there’s a sense of audience condescension that negates the presence of A-list talent in front of the camera.

In “Michael” and “Lucky Numbers,” she handed John Travolta two of his least appealing roles. Worse, she assumes that people watching her films aren’t going to think as hard as the ones who read her prose.

To her credit, in “Bewitched,” yet another movie inspired by a lame but long-lived sitcom, she and her sister (and co-screenwriter) Delia Ephron come up with one fairly shrewd idea. Instead of merely recycling the storyline of the sitcom, the two use it as a backdrop for an original story.

If only the original story were more interesting.

Will Farrell stars as Jack Wyatt, a temperamental actor (imagine if Russell Crowe whined at instead of shoved people) who has squandered his stardom of a series of big screen flops and now needs a hit TV show to revive his career.

When his cutthroat agent (Jason Schwartzman), lands him a slot on a remake of “Bewitched,” Jack is initially excited because he can influence the casting and pick a leading lady to play the witch Samantha. He’s especially eager to find someone who’s unknown and won’t steal his spotlight.

He soon discovers Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman), an enigmatic woman who lacks acting experience but who has can wiggle her nose with the same finesse that Elizabeth Montgomery did in the original series.

It turns out that she’s so good at playing a witch because she really is one. Her father (Michael Caine, apparently sensing there’s not much he can do to salvage this) spends most of the film trying to get her to go back to her life in magic, and after watching the film you wonder why she doesn’t follow his advice.

She inexplicably falls for the self-absorbed Jack, and it’s really hard to see why she’d be so eager to give up a life of casting spells for someone so undeserving.

Admittedly, the volcanic energy that Farrell projects during temper tantrums is good for several laughs, but the film’s core story is hardly that compelling. Neither of the Ephron sisters comes up with any rational reason for Isabel’s decision. Instead, they come up with cornball excuses to use their special effects budget. Watching Kidman use magic to get her dream home is rather dull.

It’s curious that Farrell’s whiny prima donna routine is more amusing than watching Kidman wiggling her ear and getting whatever she wants. Kidman certainly give the role an earnest try, but the Ephrons’ script leaves her little room to work. The supporting cast doesn’t fare much better. Shirley MacLaine leaves only a small impression as a has-been actress playing Isabel’s on-screen mother, and there’s only so much I can take of Steve Carrell imitating Paul Lynde from the original series. Lynde was only marginally amusing to begin with.

With “Sleepless in Seattle,” Ephron managed to inject a little bit of style by including quirky musical choices (the Jimmy Durante version of “As Time Goes By” was a nice touch). Here her choices are annoyingly obvious (Gee, you don’t think she’ll use Sinatra’s “Witchcraft?”), and a dance sequence between Kidman and Farrell does little more than eat time. The director has little sense of how to stage the performers.

You wonder if Nora Ephron might be better off watching old movies and TV shows and figuring out why they worked instead of mocking them or remaking them.

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originally posted: 06/24/05 15:20:18
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User Comments

8/18/09 Jeff Wilder Not godawful. But little of real substance. Feels like it could've gone right to video. 2 stars
5/28/09 Samantha Pruitt crappy remake, should have stayed a TV show! 2 stars
1/12/08 Pamela White poor casting all the way around 1 stars
12/02/07 Charles Tatum A movie that couldn't get going, Ferrell is funny, though 3 stars
10/16/06 Ryan_A "I'm a Clippers fan." WTF? No chemistry in the leads, Ephron's clueless re: comedy now... 1 stars
8/28/06 JenDenmark Not the traditional "bewitched" feeling, but the plot was built up in a fun way! 4 stars
7/08/06 drydock54321 why did they have to ruin it. they should have made them the real samantha & darren 1 stars
6/06/06 Carol Baker a film that just wanted to get all the characters in and too much with Darren 3 stars
5/14/06 Ron Green Whay a disapointment! Does not do the original justice. This film is NOT Bewitched! 2 stars
12/30/05 tony No value whatsoever 2 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Ferrell at his worst. His very worst. Kidman isn't that good herself, either. 2 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz slow and predictable, will farrel has lost his sense of humor. 3 stars
10/26/05 Paul Smith One of the worst movies I have ever seen, what was Nicole Kidman thinking 1 stars
10/26/05 Katie Evridge Cute comedy 4 stars
10/20/05 PAG Lame and unfunny 2 stars
10/20/05 odditie EWW 1 stars
10/19/05 the untrained eye Can the word Ephron now be an adjective, as in "a total piece of Ephron?" 1 stars
9/24/05 Alvin Stroud Exactly, Rachel. But do you mean NK's s___ DOES stink??? 2 stars
9/24/05 Rachel Thompson Tedious&Disorganized. Nicole Kidman thinks her shit don't stink. 2 stars
9/18/05 jaypee licaros wala lang gagamitin ko lang sa movie review 5 stars
9/12/05 Dawn I really enjoyed this movie, as I went in knowing it wasn't gonna be like the movie, 5 stars
8/31/05 Lauren it sucks 1 stars
8/30/05 Nick Kraemer tolerable and the $1 theatre 3 stars
8/22/05 Christian Embarrassing without doubt. 2 stars
8/20/05 R. Andrews Terrrible--absolutely dire--unfunny--truly painful! 1 stars
8/11/05 ES Am I the only one getting worn out on Ferrell's 'I'm so crazy and dumb' routine? 1 stars
7/27/05 Atlon Script is going nowhere, irritating overacting 1 stars
7/13/05 Helen Bradley Poor script, overacting, terrible performances except Kidman OK 1 stars
7/12/05 Anne I was bursting with Laughter Will Farrel and Nicole Kidman were a perfect match 5 stars
7/11/05 8=====D will ferral u suck! 1 stars
7/11/05 slanes Very disappointed with the movie. They could have done so much with it and flopped. 2 stars
7/08/05 Uncle Salty "Load of Shit" is too good a rating 1 stars
7/08/05 William Vollmer not great; but not totally gad eithr 3 stars
6/29/05 Jin another dog for Kidman. shes on a roll. 1 stars
6/28/05 katheryne i like it 3 stars
6/27/05 KingNeutron I was looking fwd to it, but expected more. They should have done Endora = her mom "IRL" 3 stars
6/25/05 gerry Entertaining film;great acting by kidman 5 stars
6/21/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble McLanine is genius, the rest is just rehashed doo-doo 3 stars
6/19/05 Ray Not as bad as I thought it would be 4 stars
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  24-Jun-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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