June 26, 2005


Guess Hollywood has butchered another classic. Rather than ruin great shows like Bewitched, why not just create totally new, bad scripts? I guess they wouldn't have the name recognition. But Bewitched made it's name by quality camp and a fantastic leading and supporting cast. I've not seen the remake, but this doesn't make it look too promising. I was actually working with a theatrical agent who was trying to recommend me for the Endora role. I thought I could play the hell out of that eccentric, imperious glamour-hag. But when I heard that Shirley McClaine had nabbed the role I had to agree that she's more perfect for it. Please tell that at least SHE has a few dramatic moments--she ain't even in the trailer! (I did hear a few of the "spell" sound effects and you can download them--it sounds like they used the fantastic original effects--from http://mobile.sonypictures.com/movies/bewitched/ringtones.aspx including a free "nose wiggle".) And I hate to say it, but Nicole will never be as pretty as Elizabeth Montgomery. Perhaps more elegant than Elizabeth but never so appealing.

By Michael Atkinson for the Village Voice


I have no idea why Hollywood makes movies derived from TV series that the all-important 15- to 25-year-old ticket-buying demographic has absolutely no firsthand knowledge of, or why those same designated audiences do in fact pay to see them with formidable reliability. But I can tell you this about the new Bewitched: It is an affliction. As if the work of an angry god, the movie collects the perspectives of Nora Ephron (director, co-writer), Delia Ephron (co-writer), and Penny Marshall (producer), coalescing into a showbiz self-suck unrivaled in modern times for smugness, vapidity, and condescension. To spend even 10 minutes in the movie's universe is to experience the Sartrean nausea of an utterly hollow head and heart.
The original show, lovable and aggressively innocent though it was (I preferred I Dream of Jeannie, if only for Larry Hagman's manic anxiety), is far too hokey to be considered "high concept," and at any rate had trouble attracting a daytime rerun viewership by 1976. Our new heroine is a chipmunk-falsettoed, apricot-cheeked Nicole Kidman, who's so sheeny with digital airbrushing she's got the unearthly vibrance of a newborn. This new Samantha (Isabel, actually) longs to give up witchery and live like a normal person in Beverly Hills (!), but before long she meets up with descending megastar Will Ferrell, who's making a new

Bewitched TV series! So she falls for him and gets cast as Samantha, even though she's actually a witch! Isn't that a fucking riot?! As always a fool for wealth porn, Ephron also jams her scenes with swatches and memorabilia from the old show—postmod!—and virtually every sequence change is an occasion for a song interlude. "Witchy Woman," "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead," Sinatra on "Witchcraft," the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." I'm dying!

It's symptomatic of the recycling-regurgitating Hollywood dynamic that the TV show within the movie doesn't resemble anything a real network would make today—for all of their navel-gazing insider-ness, Ephron, Ephron, and Marshall are as clueless as farm turkeys. Kidman cutes it up, and Ferrell is so fearless in the face of the tasks put before him that he should get a Nobel, but it's nothing they couldn't do while brushing their teeth, or more to the point, paying their bills. The film is airy and weightless, not like, say, chiffon, but like the black smoke of burning truck tires. In an ideal world, Marshall and the Ephrons should have to sharecrop, for all the good they've done for the culture.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

as long as they never dare to make a movie version of Jeannie, i'm fine.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:34 PM  
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8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:53 PM  

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