Bewitched

Bomb Rating: 

It may be the meanest, lowest line ever uttered onscreen in Hollywood history, and that's saying something. Let the record show that the Ephrons wrote it, and Ferrell spoke it.

A movie based on a TV show would be incestuous and uninteresting enough, but "Bewitched" dares to be a movie about the making of a remake of a TV show. It's set on a studio set. Its actors play actors. The whole thing is the creative equivalent of fantasizing about masturbating because you're too lazy to bother actually doing it.

This is another film from the Ephron sisters, otherwise known as "Nora -n- Delia," otherwise known as "Hollywood's Gorgon Hacks." The Ephrons are to movies as Cathy Guisewite is to comic strips: They produce shockingly misogynistic work, but are never called on the carpet for it, because they are, presumably, women.

Will Ferrell plays Jack Wyatt who plays Darrin. Nicole Kidman plays Isabel Bigelow who plays Samantha. Jack's an actor on the decline who needs a foil. Isabel is (get this) a real witch trying to find her way in the world. She proclaims to her dad (Michael Caine) that she's oh-so-tired of just waving her hands to make things happen. Isabel wants to know "real" life with struggle and disappointment and black, sinking despair. It's like watching a Bush twin pine for poverty.

Instead of struggling, Isabel is instantly discovered by Jack, who casts the unknown actress as Samantha so she can bask in his shadow. Naturally, the opposite happens. There's some flirting, then some fighting, then some romance, or at least the Ephron version of it, which consists mostly of vague aphorisms about "true love" followed by suspiciously chaste kissing.

Like all good little Ephron Barbie-doll heroines of late, Kidman plays her role as a breathless victim of circumstance, flinging her limp wrists to and fro as she proselytizes about true love like a 9-year-old girl drawing hearts on her Trapper Keeper. Kidman's innocence isn't endearing; it's disturbing. At one point she asks "What's a dick?" When Will Ferrell kisses her it's not so much an act of love as a borderline molestation; it gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Another line that stuck with me was when Jack lamented playing Darrin, saying of the old TV show, "They replaced the original Darrin and no one noticed!" Wow. Time for a segment I call: "Did You Know?"

Did you know they replaced the original Darrin on the TV series, Dick York, due to York's problems with chronic back pain and resultant addiction? His ejection from the show effectively ended York's career, and he sank into a desperate spiral of pain, addiction, decay and unemployment and spent his final days holed up in a tiny bungalow in central Michigan. Despite this, York became an active and spirited advocate for the homeless before he finally died of emphysema in 1992, when he at last found peace from a lifetime of pain. Peace, that is, until last Friday when "Bewitched" opened on screens nationwide and some spoiled fucking no-talent hack screenwriter seized the opportunity to take a potshot at his corpse. It may be the meanest, lowest line ever uttered onscreen in Hollywood history, and that's saying something. Let the record show that the Ephrons wrote it, and Ferrell spoke it.

Speaking of Ferrell and karma, this now makes two bad script decisions in a row for the once-rising comedic actor (after the deadly unfunny "Kicking and Screaming") and he'd better do whatever it takes to avoid a third. As for the ending, it's so hurried and random that it feels like the kind of ending you'd write after the studio calls and says that if you don't get the finished script to them by the next day you're fired and off the project.

"Bewitched" is bad magic from beginning to end.

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