The Barenaked Archives: Bewitched

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

So, I give you my very first regular feature: The Barenaked Archives. These are reviews that I did for SIN or Hollywood Elsewhere (or both). Sadly, SIN and my column on HE are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

Bewitched Be Sucking

bewitched_webCandy is a wonderful confection. It’s sweet, it’s tasty, and the sugar high will keep you running for hours (well, maybe that’s just me). However, if you have too much of it, candy will make you sick and leave you hanging over the toilet, ruing that last bite. Such is the case with Bewitched, a movie that starts out as a sweet little comedy that quickly overstays its welcome.

In an attempt to sum up the very convoluted plot, Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) is an actor who’s dropped off the A-list after an atrocious performance by his last movie. He’s cast as Darrin in a remake of the TV show Bewitched in the hopes of rebuilding his career.

To ensure the show’s focus stays on him, Jack casts an unknown in the role of Samantha: Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman), who, unbeknownst to Jack, is an actual witch who’s given up her powers and moved to Los Angeles in hopes of finding real love. (Why on earth she thinks she can do that in L.A. is beyond me.) So, we’re dealing with a movie that’s a remake of a TV show about the remaking of said TV show. Got that?

It’s probably a testament to how well Nicole Kidman can act that she did so well with what could have been an annoying role. Isabel is girly and light and sweetness and innocence, like living cotton candy. Kidman instills in her likeability despite being a relative child to the modern world. Not to say she does it perfect all the time, but Isabel is considerably less irritating than she could’ve been.

Will Ferrell, on the other hand, cranks it up to 11 to play the self-centered, arrogant Jack, and does so very unevenly. At some points his over-the-top acting is bust-a-gut funny, while at other points you just want to hit him with a tranquilizer gun so that he’ll SHUT UP.

Sadly, woefully, tragically, miserably underused are Michael Caine as Isabel’s skirt-chasing father Nigel and Shirley MacLaine as Iris Smythson, the actress who plays Samantha’s mother Endora on the TV show. Both are bright spots in some otherwise-dull sequences, and they even get their own little romance, but their plot line is dropped by the end of the movie, leaving us wondering what happened. In fact, forget the rest of the movie, I would’ve rather watched a film about these two.

Steve Carell, a Will Ferrell movie regular, makes a manic and hilarious cameo at the very end as Uncle Arthur. It’s a pity, because Arthur’s only purpose is to be the deus ex machina dropped in to clean up the mess the characters have gotten themselves into. Let’s say it together: “lazy writing.”

Speaking of lazy writing, this movie has the some of the worst “dream” sequences I’ve ever seen. You see, because Isabel is a witch, she can rewind time and start over when things don’t work out quite right. Now, this is cool, and could probably be very effective if used correctly.

However, when you spend thirty minutes following a storyline, and then rewind those entire thirty minutes to start over, that’s not cool, that’s stupid. You have wasted the viewer’s time and this gimmick should be dragged outside, doused in lighter fluid, and ignited so that we can hear it scream in agony as it dies a slow, flaming death.

Bewitched is a hardly bewitching, and if anything should be avoided. There are other better comedies around. If you must see it, wait and catch it at the dollar theater on 50-cent Tuesdays. At least then you won’t be wasting your money.

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One comment on “The Barenaked Archives: Bewitched

  1. […] And this is the second time this year when MacLaine’s mere presence has saved a movie from being a complete waste of my time. (See Bewitched.) […]

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