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Bewitched: The Movie (2005)

This 2005 adaptation of Bewitched is not simply a remake of the 1960s sitcom. Will Ferrell stars as near has-been actor Jack Wyatt, who's to play Darrin in a new Bewitched series. So as not be overshadowed by a big-name female lead, he wants to hire an unknown for the role of Samantha, and to move the focus of the show to Darrin. Nicole Kidman, meanwhile, stars as Isabel Bigelow, a real-life witch who comes to live among mortals with a view to finding true love--a commodity hard to come by in her world because of the potential for achieving instant gratification via witchcraft. Jack, needless to say, discovers Isabel--he espies her twitching her nose through a bookstore's shelves--and convinces her to take on the role of Samantha. A romance ensues, with various setbacks prompted largely by Jack's general obnoxiousness, but in the end we all leave the theater happy.

As the above suggests, Bewitched the movie plays with mixing up the real and fictional worlds: Isabel and Jack are a witch and mortal who fall in love while pretending to be a witch and mortal who fall in love. But the playfulness goes farther than that. Isabel happens to have an Aunt Clara who's given to popping in for visits via the chimney, for example--a coincidence that doesn't really make sense but is, I suppose, cute. And toward the movie's end Uncle Arthur (played by Steve Carrell doing a decent impersonation of Paul Lynde) appears to Jack as a sort of warlock ex machina: its his intervention that saves the day...except that he's apparently only a hallucination. That doesn't make a lot of sense either, but it is, I suppose, cute. The perfectly charming Michael Caine stars as Isabel's perfectly charming father, Nigel Bigalow, who tries to dissuade Isabel from slumming it with the mortals, just as Endora, in the series, opposes Samantha's stay among mortals. But Nigel winds up falling himself for Iris Smythson (Shirley MacLaine), the actress who plays Endora in the series. In an interesting twist, Iris hints around that she just might be a witch herself, and we don't know for sure what her status is until much later in the movie.

And the playfulness goes a little deeper yet. In the movie, Jack and Isabel are remaking the first episode of the real Bewitched series. We're shown a few black-and-white clips of Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. The new series follows the storyline of the original first episode to an extent: the new Darrin and Sam meet by bumping into each other, just as the old Darrin and Sam did, and they go to dinner at Darrin's old girlfriend's house. What's interesting is that what happened at the dinner party in the original series is not recreated faithfully in the new episode, but it is recreated in Jack and Isabel's real life. Jack's soon-to-be ex-wife is Sheila (the name of the old Darrin's ex-girlfriend), who makes a crack to Isabel about rhinoplasty (just as Sheila did to Samantha in the old series), prompting Isabel to resort to witchcraft in response (just as Samantha did).

If all this sounds a bit dizzying, well, it's not so bad when you see it acted out. The plot doesn't always stand up to logical scrutiny (why is Isabel's Samantha doll twitching its nose at her?), but the movie is fun and cute and sweet. Not a bad feel-good flick.

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About the blogger: The mother of two preternaturally attractive girls, Debra manages her online universe from her subterranean lair.... Read more.