Making the Grades
Bewitched proves to be the perfect showcase for Nicole Kidman's pixie nose, and she uses it advantageously to play Samantha Stevens. Will Ferrell also does a fair job as the bumbling Darren. Yet this updated version of the old TV show has some added subject matter most parents won't remember from the original.
Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) has a floundering movie career and is one bad role away from the game show circuit. Luckily for him, his agent (Jason Schwartzman) has managed to score him a part as Darren in an upcoming remake of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched.
However, the actor with the over-inflated ego has one stipulation. He wants an unknown actress to reprise the role of Samantha, someone pretty who'll stand around, twitch her nose and leave all the good lines to him.
When he spots Isabel Bigelow (Kidman) scrunching her nose in a pre-sneeze spasm, he's convinced she'll make the perfect Samantha. Little does he know Isabel, who has just moved to town, is a real witch trying to leave behind the world of incantations and hexes.
Despite her father's (Michael Caine) objections and dire warnings about living among mortals, the attractive blonde has come to Hollywood to try and settle into a normal life. She manages to find a place to rent, set up her home entertainment center and even make friends with the next-door neighbor (Kristin Chenoweth)--all without too much supernatural intervention.
But avoiding the use of her broomstick and caldron becomes a challenge after she accidentally overhears Jack's real feelings about her. When the show's prescreening results come in, the actor's poor ratings result in a torrid of finger pointing. He accuses the test audience of being high on cocaine and Isabel of stealing his share of the spotlight.
Casting a spell with the tug of her ear, Isabel eagerly puts the bigheaded performer in his place. Yet despite the encouragement of her set aid Nina (Heather Burns) and her TV mother Endora (Shirley MacLaine) to set him straight, Isabel still feels a little spark of magic toward her hopelessly self-possessed costar.
Unfortunately the script takes some un-enchanting detours along the way. Plenty of discussion revolves around sexual relationships and there's an abundant use of crude terms for male body parts. Always the womanizer, Isabel's dad openly discusses his plan to bed, but never wed, every pretty girl he sees. Nina's suggestion for getting back at Jack includes finding naked pictures of him and using her computer program to create photos that imply bestiality. However Jack tops that when he appears in the buff (with details digitally blotted out) on a late night talk show.
Using the familiar tune from the sitcom, this film has a great soundtrack. But even good music can't give this modernized remake the kind of magical charm needed to bewitch most family audiences.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Bewitched.
For Samantha, casting a spell by tugging on her ear is a hard habit to break, especially when times are tough. Why are old habits difficult to overcome? What magic does she use to undo her hexes? What kind of “addictions” do normal mortals face? How do you make up for backsliding?
Isabel’s TV mother Endora warns her about becoming a “mannered” actor. What does she mean? Why do actors sometimes become stuck in a certain kind of role? What famous actors do you think fit this category?
What does Isabel discover about the real “magic” of love?