By: Alex Phuong (Three Beers) –
In 1964, one of the most popular television shows ever created premiered on ABC. Starring Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch named Samantha, the original series of Bewitched enchanted audiences for eight seasons, and continues to “bewitch” viewers even in the present day (as of 2018 & pun intended). Because of the success of the original sitcom, and the undeniable fact that Hollywood likes to do remakes, it is no wonder that Nora Ephron would team up with her sister Elia Ephron to adapt the beloved series into a modern comedy. Starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, these two stars share on-screen chemistry that is just about as cute and hilarious as the teamwork between Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York (and Dick Sargent to a certain extent) when the original show enjoyed success from 1964 to 1972.
This film is actually pretty funny! Nicole Kidman is very ideal as the star of this remake because she and Elizabeth Montgomery are both blonde and know how to perform the famous nose twitch. Kidman displays her versatility as an actress in this comedic role, especially since she made this film shortly after the success of Moulin Rouge (2001) and winning the Academy Award for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours (2002). Will Ferrell is also hilarious as the self-centered and egotistical Jack Wyatt, who only cast the unknown Isabel Bigelow (Kidman) in an attempt to stand in the limelight when he agrees to star in a remake of Bewitched as Darrin Stephens. This film also has a metafictional quality to it since the plot centers on a television remake of the original Bewitched sitcom while also “poking fun” at it and honoring its legacy simultaneously. That is all thanks to the clever imaginations of both Elia Ephron and her sister, Nora Ephron, one of the most respected female directors and screenwriters who made a variety of comedies ranging from Sleepless in Seattle (1993) to Julie & Julia (2009).
In spite of its attempt to honor the original show, it does not exactly do justice to the sitcom. Part of the success of the original show was its ability to present quirky and humorous situations for Samantha, Darrin, Endora, and the rest of the original cast as they used magic (or the lack thereof) in order to resolve conflicts during each half-hour episode. This modern remake appears to lose that childlike innocence of the original sitcom because it is a somewhat raunchy comedy that actually highlights the inappropriate behavior that people in Hollywood often do behind-the-scenes. That is especially true for Jack Wyatt because he just wants to achieve fame and fortune. Shirley MacLaine’s character Iris Smythson (who plays Endora within the fictional remake) also appears to only want to be famous because she tries to act like the star in spite of the contributions from both Isabel and Jack. Perhaps Ephron made this remake in a way that would teach audiences that magic does NOT exist in the real world, and that Hollywood is actually very fake rather than spellbinding.
And of course, many modern audiences did not enjoy this film during its original release in 2005. In fact, this is one of the most “recognized” films in Razzie Award history, which earned the distinction of having the “Worst Screen Couple” of that year, and almost won the award for “Worst Remake or Sequel.” Such an “honor” is really not that surprising since this remake does not exactly “honor” the beloved sitcom (pun intended).
Bewitched might be one of the worst remakes ever made, but it can still provide laughter for people who want to feel nostalgic about classic television. There was also some talk in Hollywood shortly after this film’s release about a similar remake of I Dream of Jeannie in the style of this film. Maybe the reason why that film never came into fruition is because of the poor quality of this remake. Nevertheless, this disastrous film can still provide some chuckles while introducing a new generation of audiences to one of the greatest sitcoms in television history.
Bewitched (2005) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every magical moment
Take a Drink: every time the film features clips from the original series
Drink a Shot: for every nose twitch
and Have a Fancy Drink: when Isabel and Jack dance to the classic “Bewitched” title song sung by Frank Sinatra