Thursday, June 23, 2005


Bewitched (Director: Nora Ephron)

There is only one film Nora Ephron directed that is a classic, and that's Sleepless In Seattle. Then, she wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally... After that, her movies can all be lumped in the mediocre to bad range--Mixed Nuts, Michael, Hanging Up, and the re-teaming of Hanks and Ryan in You've Got Mail. Co-written with her sister, Delia, who wrote this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and has collaborated on all of the horrible previously mentioned movies. Wonder why the others are so good.

I'm going to keep score every once in awhile on Hollywood's dearth of creativity, a task I undertook with The Amityville Horror review--but I was only counting from March 18 then. Since the beginning of the year to the June 24 mark, we now have been treated to 6 sequels (Son of the Mask, The Ring Two, Miss Congeniality 2, XXX 2, Star Wars Episode III, Land of the Dead), 5 remakes (Assault on Precinct 13, Guess Who, The Amityville Horror, House of Wax, The Longest Yard), 2 movies based on old TV shows (this film and The Honeymooners), 2 revamped franchise films (Batman Begins, Herbie: Fully Loaded), a biopic that was already the basis for a successful documentary (Lords of Dogtown), 2 spinoffs (Elektra, Beauty Shop), a 2nd version of a film based on a book (Fever Pitch; and we're about to get a 2nd one of those in War of the Worlds), and one more chapter in the Pooh franchise. Very little in that bunch has been good. Hate to mention the great Batman Begins in this bunch, but those are the breaks.

The film's premise: Will Ferrell plays Jack Wyatt, a former hotshot actor who has just taken a beating at the box office and looks to put a jolt back into his career by taking a TV show--a "re-imagining" of "Bewitched." That part of the movie is scarily accurate, and the Ephron sisters miss out on making fun of that aformentioned creative dearth I was talking about. None of the actresses who come in to audition for the role of Samantha can seem to get the acting or the nose-twitch thing down, and then Wyatt discovers Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman), who unbeknownst to everyone is really a witch. So, the movie gets its "inspiration" by paralleling the TV series--it's about a woman who is a witch who desperately wants to experience the life of a mortal, and there's a genuine love story between the man and the witch.

Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman star in their 2nd films this year, and let me get this straight out--they are as appealing a pair of actors as you can find. Ferrell is in his supreme likeable mode, and Kidman has that adorable American doll thing down. When these two are in the midst of the romantic angle, the movie is breezy fun. But when this movie veers into the parallel crap, where we have to introduce the new "Endora" (Shirley MacClaine) who is also a witch/actress, the father (Michael Caine) who might as well be Dr. Bombay, Uncle Arthur (Steve Carrell, who I love, but is miscast--I think Richard Kind, who ends up playing neighbor Abner Kravitz, would have been perfect), and Aunt Clara (Carole Shelley), the movie is downright tedious and poor.

It's a shame, because the movie did have some promise. I laughed a few times in this, but it was painful considering the movie that could have been made here. We also have other "Daily Show" vets Stephen Colbert as a producer and Mo Rocca as a trashy entertainment reporter, Jason Schwartzman plays a sleazy agent, and almost nonexistent turns from David Alan Grier as a director and Michael Badalucco as a props guy. A waste of lots of funny people here.

If I could cut out the "Bewitched" angle, this movie would be fine. As is, keep 'em comin' Hollywood!


At 6/23/2005 08:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you on the unimpressive streak the Ephron's had after sleepless in seattle, but i have to admit that i liked you ve got mail.. nothing original about it but its something about the way the performances blend in or something (i favor meg ryan but have no such bias for hanks)..

At 6/23/2005 11:40:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, You've Got Mail is sort of enjoyable. It's certainly better than the others I group it with.

At 6/23/2005 11:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i ll be reading about charlie and the chocolate factory on this blog before i see it. keeping my fingers crossed though i have a feeling that this may not be a hit at the box office. Burton-Depp have a good record considering edward scissorhands and sleepy hollow..


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