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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by John Bramley)

photo caption:
MOTHER, DON'T TURN HIM INTO A TOAD!: Jack (Will Ferrell, right) is in danger of being changed into a toad or something worse by the witch Endora (Shirley MacLaine, center), Isabel's (Nicole Kidman, left) mother, after he makes the mistake of angering her. Fortunately, Isabel is able to persuade Endora to spare him from her spell.end caption.

Bewitched: Kidman and Ferrell Put Twist on Familiar Formula in Adaptation of Classic TV Sitcom

Movie Review by Kam Williams

Bewitched (1964-1972), starring Elizabeth Montgomery, was a hit television series which enjoyed a long run on ABC. The program revolved around Samantha, an attractive witch who couldn't keep the promise she made to her mortal husband, Darrin, that, after they were married, she would never use her magical powers. Each week, the sitcom placed her in situations where she couldn't avoid twitching her nose and casting a spell.

What made the show so endearing was Montgomery's personality combined with a colorful, talented cast. Two of the supporting actresses received Emmys for their performances: Alice Pearce as the easily-alarmed, nosy next-door neighbor Gladys Kravitz, and Marion Lorne as the absent-minded Aunt Clara.

Equally unforgettable were Endora (Agnes Moorehead), Darrin's mother-in-law, Darrins's boss, Larry Tate (David White), Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde), and Abner (George Tobias), Alice's husband. Actors making guest appearances included Raquel Welch, June Lockhart (Lassie), Jimmy Mathers (Leave It to Beaver), Bill Mumy (Lost in Space), Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad), Vic Tayback (Alice), Norman Fell (Three's Company), Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons), Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat), and Tom Bosley (Happy Days).

The screen adaptation of Bewitched pays homage to the original, resurrecting many of the familiar roles while putting an intriguing twist to the plot to give the remake a soul of its own. The film's cast includes Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, and Oscar winners Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine.

Bewitched, the movie, has the Ephron sisters behind the scenes, with Nora directing and collaborating on the script with her sister Delia, and Adam McKay.

The story unfolds as a fiction within a fiction, and is essentially a romantic comedy. The movie starts when a witch named Isabel (Kidman) materializes in the San Fernando Valley, wanting to lead a normal life. At the same time, Jack (Ferrell), a fading, Hollywood matinee idol, is trying to get his career back on track.

He signs on as Darrin in a remake of the television series Bewitched, even though he considers television a step down from movies. When he spots Isabel in a bookstore, he asks her to play his wife, Samantha. Isabel accepts, not because she wants to be an actress, but because she thinks he might make a good mate.

She quickly learns that Jack is narcissistic and is incapable of appreciating anyone but himself. Frustrated, Isabel turns to sorcery to get her man. And, even though her spells do work, Isabel realizes that she only wants him if he wants her, too.

Therefore, we have a witch pretending to be a witch while hoping to win the affections of her television spouse. As the film unfolds, a coterie of side players appear, mimicking familiar characters from the original show.

The movie has some hilarious moments, mostly thanks to Mr. Ferrell's slapstick comedy, mugging, and other antics. If you approach Bewitched as a series of Saturday Night Live style skits, it makes for a pleasant, mindless diversion.

Very Good (3 stars). Rating: PG-13 for sex, expletives, partial nudity and drug references. Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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