Thursday, July 07, 2005

BEWITCHED, rated PG-13 for man-breasts, as Will Ferrell remains inexplicably proud of his train-wreck of an upper torso and is contractually obligated to remove his shirt at least once per film.

Way to go, Hollywood. Without going anywhere near this movie, I feel safe assuming you’ve taken four or five blockbuster ideas and combined them to create the least watchable retread of the summer.

Great idea number one. If you’re gonna pay tribute to a bygone television series, go with something people actually remember like Bewitched (as opposed to, say, McHale’s Navy or Car 54). Check.

Great idea number two. Cast a pair of big-name stars in the lead roles (as opposed to whoever those two guys are playing Bo and Luke in this summer’s Dukes of Hazzard movie). Check.

Great idea number three. Go the increasingly popular meta route and update (or refuse to update) the beloved series in a clever, quirky way a la The Brady Bunch Movie and/or infuse your remake with self-mocking tongue-in-cheekiness a la Starsky and Hutch. Check. Check.

Great idea number four. Reassure audience members that Shirley Mclaine is, in fact, still alive and has not yet been reincarnated as a Gila Monster or a shrubbery or, heaven forbid, one of their own children. Check.

Stir them all together and I suspect director Nora Ephron still comes closer to Fat Albert than The Untouchables.

From what I understand, this remake’s actually about the remaking of the classic Bewitched television show (though the previews I've seen have wisely steered clear of this potentially confusing meta-twist). And, to make things even wackier, it appears as though Nicole Kidman (recently heralded a comic genius for her hilarious performances in films about drowned poets, Civil War-era heartache and women who fall in love with ten-year-old boys) is pretending to be an actual witch pretending to be an actress pretending to be a witch. And her straight man is none other than Will Ferrell (who apparently portrays an actor in line to replace the guy … guys … who played ad exec Darren Stephens in the original series).

Of course, hilarity ensues. But, unfortunately, so does a whole bunch of benign computer wizardry. Come on! The coolest thing about watching old episodes of Bewitched (and, lest we forget, “I Dream of Jeannie” … which was, I think, the original remake of Bewitched) was/is the painfully lame special effects of the day. Long before CGI allowed Hollywood to hurl Tom Cruise through the Mission: Impossible remake and to reanimate Scooby Doo, creating “special” effects was as simple as yelling “Freeze!,” turning off the camera, planting a birthday cake or a suit of armor or a chimp in the shot and turning the camera back on. Boing!

On a scale from “Dragnet” to “The Fugitive,” I give this movie a “Beverly Hillbillies.”

2 Comments:

Blogger Jim McCarthy said...

Hey, at least there are no rapping animals in this one...

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jim Roth said...

The folks remaking Mr. Ed had dibs.

12:59 PM  

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