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Bewitched (2005)

by on 2012/05/05

“Every woman wants to be a witch.”

* * *

I’ve been spending some quality and quantity time lately with audio books. Recently, I communed with the voice of Nora Ephron reading her book “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.”

By the time it was over, I felt like arch, amusing Nora Ephron (Mixed Nuts) was one of my best friends. I would like to partially blame my long commute for this delusion, and partially blame the self-deprecating Ms. Ephron.

I imagine that she’s really my sort of person. Ok, I didn’t really buy her bit about the transcendental quality of a certain kind of sauerkraut strudel (although I am awfully curious now). I  did however like Ms. Ephron’s philosophy of comedy. Comedy done well, she said, allowed you to be the hero of your own misfortune.

This all leads me to believe that Bewitched, written and directed by Ms. Ephron,  was born of some very bad things that Hollywood did to this interesting woman. This movie about a television show based on a television show is crammed with meta-level, self-referential, Hollywood-insider speak. There’s also an undercurrent of angst, pain and insecurity in this movie.

Will Ferrell (Kicking and Screaming) plays has-been Jack Wyatt, a star desperate to kick-start his flagging career by rebooting the Bewitched 1960s television series. Egged on by his Iago-like agent/manager, Ritchie, played by Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World), Wyatt spends most of his time posturing like a bi-polar mountain gorilla, bickering with his foul ex-wife, and demanding three trailers (and a jungle cat) in exchanging for playing Darrin in Bewitched.

Looking for a nobody to play Samantha, Jack happens upon Isabel Bigelow played by Nicole Kidman (The Golden Compass) in a book store. Thinking he’s recruited the perfect hapless no-name for his screen partner, Jack doesn’t realized Isabel is, in fact, an actual witch.

Hilarity ensues. Ok, maybe hilarity is too strong a word. Appropriately, I was solidly be-mused throughout. Will Ferrell does his whiny, raging man-child thing. You’ve seen it before …that doesn’t mean it is bad.

Nicole Kidman is sort of adorable as a witch on a 12-step program to kick magic in the hopes of becoming an average suburbanite. Schwartzman is all languid smarminess – and he does it so well. Heather Burns (Bored to Death) is Nina, Isabel’s confidante and show writer, and she gets all the best dead-pan lines. 

Stephen Colbert (A Colbert Christmas) plays vacuous, fearful producer Stu. Steve Carrell (40-Year-Old Virgin) plays Uncle Arthur. Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment) is the aging diva, Endora.

And, and, and…!  Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) plays Isabel’s dad and is depicted variously  as Captain Highliner, Green Giant, and a Paul Newman popcorn label.

For a jaded television and movie watcher, surrounded by stacks of DVDs and BluRays as I so consistently am, this cast alone (and Caine as the Green Giant) was alone worth the price of admission (in this case a delete-bin $5-total).

I like to imagine that the charming Nora Ephron sat through many stars’ temper tantrums, watched moments of Hollywood hypocrisy and spent marathon bitch sessions at places like the Coffee Bean cafe complaining about the raging egos on the set.

I suspect this is  all where lines like, “We could electrocute him. There’s ton of wires around here… If we get naked pictures of him and pictures of farm animals, I could photoshop them… I think we should taser him and throw him into the shark tank at Seaworld” come from.

Therefore, Ms. Ephron, I think you did it. You are the hero of your own misfortune. I thought Bewitched was worth my time, my money and gave me a glimpse into the weird, tortured worlds of Hollywood film lots.

(And yes, I do sort of wish now I was a witch).

* * *

102 minutes

Rated PG-13 for some language, including sex and drug references, and partial nudity

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  1. A Goth’s Month in Review: May 2012 « Geek vs Goth

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