Bewitched (2005)

(On Cable TV, August 2016) For a television show adaptation that could have coasted on simply reprising the basic elements of the original, there is a whole lot more postmodernism to Bewitched than necessary … and it does help make the movie better than it should have been. Less-annoying-than-usual Will Ferrell stars as an arrogant high-profile comic actor in desperate need of a hit, accepting a lead role on a TV show based on the old Bewitched TV show. So far so good, except that the show also ends up selecting an unknown woman (Nicole Kidman) as the co-lead … unaware that she’s a witch trying to go straight. Numerous hijinks ensue, helped along by the multiple levels of fiction and wizardry. Written and directed by Nora Ephron, Bewitched does have a gentle comic quality heightened by it meta-fictional nature. Ferrell is more or less up to his own standards, but Kidman is effortlessly charming as a good witch, with Michael Caine as her disapproving father. Shirley MacLaine also shows up as a matriarch with secrets, plus Steven Colbert in an actual character role. The film itself isn’t that great, but it’s decently entertaining for what it is, and it would have been far less interesting had it not nudged, even gently, in postmodernism. As far as adapting old TV shows are concerned, I’ve seen worse.

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