Bewitched

Crimes:

• Bringing Bewitched to the big screen in the most convoluted, awkwardly written manner imaginable

• Being far less progressive in its gender politics than the '60s sitcom that inspired it

• Wasting a phenomenal cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Stephen Colbert, Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, and Steve Carell

Defender: Writer-director Nora Ephron

Tone of commentary: Chatty, gushing. In the first five minutes, Ephron tries out all sorts of metaphorical contexts for the original show, positing it as everything from a feminist milestone to an allegory about mixed marriages to a show about alcoholism and falling off the wagon. No wonder she describes it as "Rorschach-y." Ephron politely disparages straight adaptations of TV shows, yet somehow imagines that her forehead-slappingly convoluted "homage" to television's Bewitched marks an ingenious improvement over the more straightforward vision of the eight screenwriters (yes, eight) who preceded her.

What went wrong: Ephron concedes that "all the extra guy parts" are "a little bit underwritten," but seems to think she overcame the problem through savvy casting.

Comments on the cast: Ephron effusively praises damn near everyone in the film. In complimenting Ferrell's constant improvisations, she unwittingly illustrates the fatal flaw of so many contemporary comedies: Filmmakers think gifted improvisers like Ferrell or Owen Wilson can single-handedly save irredeemable scripts. A mildly amusing scene where Ferrell's pompous actor appears on Inside The Actors Studio is deemed "painful to watch, it's so brilliant." The first three words do apply to Bewitched.

Inevitable dash of pretension: In explaining/justifying the film's premise, Ephron invokes Luigi Pirandello more than once.

Commentary in a nutshell: "One of the amazing things is how great the extras are in this scene."

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