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Battle of the red heads – Betwitched Review

The film Bewitched holds the honor of joining the storied collection of TV adaptation mishaps. While a smart idea on paper, the end result leaves much to be desired for fans of the original show. The movie is not nearly as brain-dead as Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle but fails to exceed mediocrity.

The film begins as a satire but slowly the tone shifts to a cheesy, family friendly romantic comedy that relies entirely on clichés.

Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell are hilarious, but the lack of chemistry bobbles the comedy. Bewitched fails elsewhere because of its lack of focus. The film can’t decide whether it wants to be a familiar, safe comedy or a witty adult romance. It’d be generous to call Bewitched a comedy, as most of the funny scenes — which are few and far between — are carried by Ferrell.

Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) is a movie star whose last film made him the laughingstock of Hollywood. With his career in shambles, Jack signs on as the star of an upcoming Bewitched remake. While scouting for the perfect Samantha, he spots Isabella Bigelow (Kidman) and is instantly taken by her. Escaping her old life as a witch, Isabella is determined to put her magical past behind her and search for love. She longs for companionship and to be “normal.” Shortly after, tempers flare on set and Isabella puts a few harmless spells on her egotistical co-star. But as the film progresses, the two leads can’t seem to be apart from one another.

Bewitched features a stunning supporting cast consisting of Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Jason Schwartzman. Caine is fantastic as usual, while Carell delivers one of his weakest comedic performances.

Director Nora Ephron does a commendable job moving from one scene to the next with seamless transitions. Though Ephron’s vision is uneven at best, it does work in recreating the characters and their distinct personality traits. But Bewitched‘s pace is unforgivable, as it drags from one mundane, slightly funny scene to the next.

Kidman is hoping Bewitched will be the commercial hit she needs, as the last few years have only yielded critical hits such as Dogville, The Hours and Birth. She does her best with the material given, but the character is too flat to rescue.

Funnyman extraordinaire Ferrell has proven himself with a string of comedy smashes such as Old School and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Every single enjoyable frame of Bewitched is due to Ferrell’s ability to make the average task seem hilarious.

But clever one-liner and a few moments of ingenious physical comedy aren’t nearly enough to salvage Bewitched. A stronger screenplay and focused direction would have steered this film past the mediocrity it is forced to settle with.

Rating: C-
Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 90 min.