Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in "Bewitched"
The most surprising thing about this retooling of the 1964 television series of the same title: Will Ferrell steals the film from beneath Nicole Kidman's twitching nose.
Adam McKay, who directed and co-scripted "Anchorman" with Ferrell, concocted this forgettable witches' brew with sisters Delia and Nora Ephron. But at least the former "Saturday Night Live" writer did Ferrell a big favor by lacing his part with goofy lines and comic bits.
Nicole Kidman's Isabel Bigelow doesn't fare as well. She's a pale shadow to Samantha Stephens, the sitcom witch who fell in love with a hapless mortal named Darrin and couldn't resist solving family problems with her magic spells. You could see the wheels of Samantha's brain working behind Elizabeth Montgomery's intelligent eyes.
Although Isabel also wants to lead a normal life with "a man who needs me," Kidman sleepwalks through her part like a Stepford wife-in-training. Her breathy, Marilyn Monroe-like voice adds to the airhead factor.
She's through with just snapping her fingers and getting her way. So how's a girl going to earn a living? The comedy's only clever conceit is having a real witch discovered Hollywood-style and cast in a remake of the television series. Jack Wyatt (Ferrell), a movie star headed for the bottom right chair in "Hollywood Squares," insists that Isabel -- a nobody -- would make the perfect co-star.
Making fun of actors with egos bigger than their bank accounts is good for a few chuckles. Jack routinely barks at underlings to make 20 cappuccinos and bring him the best one, until the dog on the show garners better ratings than he does. Movie-making illusions get a send up, too, as Endora (Shirley MacLaine) stands before classical arches carried off as a set backdrop.
This comedy might make you smile but won't leave you spellbound.
Rated PG-13 for some language, including sex and drug references, and partial nudity. 1 hour, 40 minutes.
- Susan Tavernetti