Film Review: Bewitched (2005)

 “I want my hair to be thwarted by the weather”

Another year another TV remake – following from the really-not-very-good-at-all The Stepford Wives in the Kidman canon came 2005’s Bewitched. I’ve never seen the TV series so the idea of a meta-theatrical film version did not appeal then and nor did it impress when I finally watched it in 2015. Written and directed by rom-com queen Nora Ephron, with sister Delia Ephron co-writing too, it ought to be have been much more charming affair than it is, but laden with a weak plot, appallingly thin characterisation and a concept that doesn’t really know what it wants, it’s hard to sit through.

Trying to avoid doing a straight remake, the Ephrons decided instead to make a story about a fading film star who decides to join a TV remake of Bewitched and ends up casting a real witch who has decided to renounce her powers and live in the real world as Samantha, a character who is a witch who has decided to renounce her powers and live in the real world… Which might have worked but for the lack of chemistry between leads Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, the awfulness of Ferrell’s character which makes the idea of anyone falling in love with him laughable and a supporting world whose considerable talents are wasted.

The likes of Steve Carell, Kristin Chenoweth and Jason Schwartzman are frittered away in minor roles that just disappear and even Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine, who get the hints of their own subplot, are done a huge disservice by not having it come to any kind of resolution. For what’s it worth, Kidman shows signs of being able to rescue the material with a winningly retro screen presence but even she can’t magic the shit out of this. Bewitched? More like bothered and bewildered.

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