Bewitched review

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Watching Will Ferrell in a Nora Ephron rom-com is like watching a hurricane tear through suburbia. Ephron's worldis the toy town of moviemaking: pastel colours, formulaic structures, beaming populace. Ferrell is anarchic, tumultuous, impossible to predict, his freeform banter and wildly fluctuating expressions laying waste to the prissy order of things.

Take the scene where Ferrell's lovelorn Jack Wyatt - lead of the new series of Bewitched - teams up with Steve Carrell's Uncle Arthur, a character from the original TV show, to scream and yell and scorch through the night. Yes, it serves the plot in a quick-fix, hackneyed kind of way, sweeping aside obstacles ready for the inevitable conclusion. But really it's about two old pals enjoying a frenzied jam, the Saturday Night Live funnymen turning up all dials to 11. Hilarious, but it belongs in another movie. It's called Anchorman 2.

The Ferrell/Ephron friction is especially evident in the second half, when Jack ditches his monstrous star ego ("make me 200 cappuccinos... bring me the best one!") and morphs into a lovable love interest for Kidman. It's here that Bewitched becomes soft and safe, the intriguing premise (real witch plays fictional sorceress) and sharp-ish satire (Hollywood's full of pampered pricks... otherwise known as actors and agents) giving way to (s)he-loves-me, (s)he-loves-me-not mush, with only the occasional knockout line: "Let's make love in Sea World on the back of a killer whale..."

All of which come courtesy of Ferrell. Don't expect Kidman to have the same effect, Hollywood's leading lady again proving too brittle for comedy, in a role that cries out for a young Meg Ryan. And don't expect Shirley MacLaine (playing Endora, Samantha's busybody mom in the telly series) and Michael Caine (Nigel, Isabel's warlock father) to bring a lot to the party, either. Sidelined to a romantic subplot that goes nowhere and fast, they pop up like jack-in-the-boxes before lolling on broken springs.

Hardly spellbinding, then, though Ferrell provides a liberal sprinkling of magic dust.

Starts off as a clever spin on the '60's TV series but soon sheds its inspiration. Ferrell's great, mind, - when he's let off the leash.

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