Tuesday, August 09, 2005


"I'm a witch!" and with a wrinkle of the nose, an updated version of the classic television sitcom hits the big screen with the pairing of Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell as screen couple Samantha and Darrin Stephens respectively.

Well, just not quite, This version of Bewitched is actually the making of the sitcom within the film, where screen life mimics art life. Will Ferrell plays a down and out Hollywood actor Jack Wyatt, who after a series of film bombs, relegates himself to TV land to find an opportunity to make a name for himself again. He chances upon Nicole Kidman's Isabel Bigelow, a real witch with low self-esteem, naive to the ways of the world, who wants to lead a normal life without the reliance of magic.

Jack, being the self-centered arrogant jerk that he is, and with the support of his agent, recruits Isabel as Samantha for his new TV show, a remake and updated version of Bewitched. And with creative tweaking of scripts, makes himself the star and relegates Isabel's role to one with little or no lines. The remade opening credits is also hilariously done, with all co-stars names appearing in black smoke, masking their caricatures' faces.

Being a romantic comedy, this film aptly has elements of both - needless to say Isabel falls for Jack (well, he actually hit all the right buttons in the beginning), and Will Ferrell, a comedic actor, brings along most of the laughs as the bratty actor. However, the narrative seemed contrived especially when Isabel goes through some Ally McBealish moments and scenes are literally erased with her magic powers of "Rewind", taking with it the narrative flow as well.

Kidman is beautiful as always, bearing some resemblance to the original Samantha star Elizabeth Montgomery, and is a real clothes horse too, as her Isabel has countless of wardrobe changes in this film. But some might cringe at her overly cutesy performance as the innocent Isabel. And in my opinion, Will Ferrell's short performance in Wedding Crashers seemed funnier than his role in Bewitched, which is a pity, given the potential of his role.

Carrying the film along are the many supporting characters like Michael Caine as Isabel's flirtatious father Nigel Bigelow, Shirley MacLaine as the TV show's Endora (Samantha's mother), and Jason Schwartzman as Ritchie, Jack's agent, a role which I think is an obvious jab to Tom Cruise's sports agent Jerry Maguire (heck, he also bears an uncanny resemblance).

But what actually lifted the film is its fantastic soundtrack, from the Bewitched theme, to evergreens from Frank Sinatra, The Police's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, to R.E.M,'s Everybody Hurts.

And thank goodness for that, as the storyline becomes extremely predictable as the minutes tick by towards the end. If not for Nicole Kidman's glowing presence, many audiences will do what she said most witches will do when they face problems - they disappear.

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