really a Witch"
Jack Wyatt's (Ferrell) acting career is on the slide and is
seriously in need of a boost after his last film bombed at the box office.
His agent Ritchie (Schwartzman) pushes him to get involved with the remake
of the classic television series 'Bewitched' and use it as a vehicle to
re-launch himself. As he had to be the star of the show, the role of Samantha
had to be played by an unknown who would not grab any of his spotlight.
After auditioning forever, Jack sees someone who can do that famous nose
wiggle with ease and begs her to be his TV wife but what he doesn't know
is that Isabel Bigelow (Kidman) is in fact a real witch.
Hollywood's trend for resurrecting old TV shows and revamping
them for the big screen continues but can 'Bewitched' cast the same spell
over a movie audience as the small screen original.
With romantic comedy heavy hitters, director Nora Ephron and
producer Penny Marshall in charge of the film, hopes were high but when
you actually start watching the film you soon realise that these expectations
disappear in a puff of smoke.
The main problem with the film is the premise. By trying to
add a slight twist to an already interesting premise, the whole notion of
'Bewitched' loses some of its magic. The storyline is the essentially the
same, a witch wants to be normal and when she tries to create a normal life
for herself she finds herself attracted to a mortal. The only thing is that
even as she tries to leave her past behind, she finds it very difficult
to give up magic completely. This sounds familiar to fans of the show but
in the filmmaker's infinite wisdom that decided to set the film in the modern
world were 'Bewitched' actually existed. This is all well and good but instead
of doing something slightly different, they just repeated the same premise
but with a TV show background. With no real change to the original story
of the series you can't help but wonder why they didn't just remake the
TV series for the big screen.
Another major problem is the performance of Nicole Kidman.
There is no denying that she is a very talented actress and can excel in
most of the roles that she is given but when it comes to comedy, she has
found her Achilles' heal. While she worked well in the dark comedy 'To Die
For' in 1995, she doesn't really make the transition to all out comedy very
well at all. Nothing seems to flow with her performance and you can tell
she is trying far too hard to get the tone right and this means she over
acts throughout the entire film. This stands out even more when you see
her next to seasoned comedy professionals like Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine
and the always-excellent Will Ferrell. It is his performance as Jack Wyatt
that makes the film watchable but the script slightly stifles his usual
manic and crazy persona. His performance is still good but far too restrained.
Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine good however but have far too little
screen time and Jason Schwartzman does really get the chance to shine or
make his character anything more than a clichéd agent.
'Bewitched' is another revamp of a classic TV hit that doesn't
quite capture the essence that made the show a hit in the first place. With
Nicole Kidman overacting and struggling with comedy, Will Ferrell far too
restrained for his own good and an underdeveloped supporting cast, the film
comes across as far too much of a commercial exercise with an eye on a possible
franchise. The main problem is that the magic of the TV series is missing
and with all the tricks in the world 'Bewitched' can't do anything to find
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented well.
Commentary with director Nora Ephron
The co-writer, producer and director provides a decent solo commentary
for the big screen version of 'Bewitched'. She talks about bringing one
of the most beloved TV shows to the big screen but not a complete remake.
She explains the homage to the original and the approach of the film,
as she discusses the casting and what it was like working with Will Ferrell
and Nicole Kidman. This is a good commentary from a woman who really knows
about romantic comedies.
Witch Vision Trivia Track
Witch vision takes you deeper into the world of 'Bewitched', offering
factoids and trivia in text form while you watch the movie.
Entitled 'Writer's conference', 'Barbershop Quartet', 'TV proposal scene',
'Isabel gets mad (Extended scene)', '2nd Colonnade scene' and 'The Wedding',
these deleted or extended scenes suffer from the lack of a commentary
track or introduction.
Casting a Spell: Making Bewitched (23.34 mins)
Director Nora Ephron, producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher, co-writer
Delia Ephron, production designer Neil Spisak, costume designer Mary Zophres
and stars Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine,
Jason Schwartzman, Heather Burns, Kristin Chenoweth, Jim Turner, David
Alan Grier and Stephen Colbert come together to talk about bringing 'Bewitched'
to the big screen. The cast and crew discuss the approach of the film
and Nora's directorial and writing style. We also see footage from the
rehearsals and the practicing the famous nose twitch.
Bewitched: Star Shots
Watch mini-featurettes with Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Michael Caine,
Shirley MacLaine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth, David Alan Grier
and Stephen Colbert, featuring behind the scenes footage and interviews
with the cast and crew.
Why I Love Bewitched (6.43 mins)
The cast and crew of the new version talk about the original series with
Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York.
Bewitched Trivia Game
Test your Bewitched skills in a magic themed trivia game
Previews of 'Zathura', 'Open Season', 'Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild'
and 'Bewitched: The original TV series'
The DVD treatment for 'Bewitched' is good, as you'd expect from a Sony
release. The commentary track is good and the featurettes cover both the
new film and the original series. Fans of the film should be pleased with
the DVD release.
Bewitched (TV Series)
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