456There is so much wrong with Bewitched that I don’t even know where to start. The film is a bona fide disaster, a terrible piece of crap that just flounders around on screen for an hour and a half or so until it finally dies. It’s so poorly made that I walked out of the theater actually in disbelief.

One of the first problems is the casting. Will Ferrell is a funny man, a dynamic force when used right. The lead in a romantic comedy where he has to woo Nicole Kidman is not using him right. There’s not a moment in the film where the relationship between the two of them is believable – I have an easier time buying the effortless spellcasting of the film than I do buying the idea that Nicole Kidman would look at Ferrell and want to bang him.

Kidman herself borders on embarrassing. Her accent comes and goes often – has she always been this lazy with it? I never noticed it so much in the past. She is playing Isabel, a witch who has left her witching community because she feels that a life where every whim is instantly provided for with a spell has left her a hollow person. She of course moves to LA, mecca for all hollow people.

Once there she doesn’t quite know what to do until she runs into Jack Wyatt, Will Ferrell’s character. He’s an insufferable jerk of an actor whose career is hitting the skids, so to try to get things back on track he agrees to star in a new TV version of Bewitched. He knows that no one cares about Darren, though, so he arranges to have an unknown cast in the Samantha role (because America can never come to love another actress). Bumping into Isabel at the bookstore and seeing her wiggle her nose (by the way, Ferrell does this better than Kidman, who just moves her whole lower face), he gets her the part.

There’s all sorts of complications as they fall in love. She doesn’t reveal she’s a witch, she casts a spell that sends them on the perfect date for twenty minutes of screentime and then maddeningly casts one to take it all back (someone on the message boards asked for good indicators of when to take a bathroom break – when Kidman and Ferrell go on their first date you have a lot of time, because none of it really happens. Head to the bathroom and smash your face into the mirrors again and again for seeing this movie even after I have taken all this time to warn you), and some other bullshit happens. See, that’s the formula for romcoms – you keep the leads apart by hook or by crook until the end.

Of course all genres have their formulas, and just like any formula film a romcom can be a joy when the journey is well done. Sadly Bewitched is like torture as the whole thing meanders along.

Michael Caine is an occasional spark of brightness in this drab film, but he’s in it too little. Caine plays Isabel’s disapproving playboy father who falls in love with Shirley McLaine, who is playing Endora on the new TV show. Bewitched is such a shockingly incompetent movie, though, that their story never actually ends. I assume a large chunk of the two older actors was cut from the third act to make it move faster. Still, its’ a major and inescapable structural flaw.

Since I never buy Ferrell and Kidman this romcom leaves the rom part out. But that’s not all – the movie’s not very funny at all, leaving the com aspect on the cutting room floor as well. Ferrell doesn’t work well when constrained inside a character like Jack Wyatt – he needs to be broader, and the movies he’s in need to accommodate that. Bewitched doesn’t, and besides a few scenes where he comes alive, Ferrell is hemmed in, always playing Wyatt as only a slightly dimwitted dullard, a character you couldn’t care less about. This is now the second shitty Will Ferrell movie this year – the streak is over.

Bewitched is a chore to sit through, from beginning to end. The idea that the movie wasn’t a remake of the show but rather about a remake of the show probably seemed clever at some meeting, but in the film it just serves to allow some really half-assed gags and to give the film a couple of dozen chances to wink at the audiences about how silly the concept is, how silly remakes are, etc etc etc. Missing any kind of magic at all, Bewitched should be burned at the stake.

4.0 out of 10