Adaptions are not that challenging when you think about them. You take the original, mix it up a bit, and just like magic, a new product for a new audience. Some might consider this unimaginative, but even the process of adapting could be mined for creative potential if done correctly. In 2005, a remake did just that by taking a beloved older property and not just exploring why it worked, but also the process of adapting and show business itself. All while emulating the original’s charm and humour. In the metaphysical big-screen adaptation of Bewitched.
Isabel Bigelow is a witch who longs for a normal life but cannot break the habit of using magic to help her deal with inconveniences. Meanwhile, self-centred actor, Jack Wyatt, thinks his next big thing is rebooting the acclaimed T.V. series Bewitched, but no actress is good enough for the role of Samantha. A chance meeting with Isabel wows Jack, and he casts her on the spot. Smitten with Jack, Isabel agrees. You might think this is a match made in heaven, however, Jack’s ego makes him seem repugnant to Isabel, and she starts using her powers to get vengeance, With magic in the mix hearts and dreams will end up getting tangled.
The film forgoes the typical trappings of conventional reboots by being about the process of remakes. It is intriguing from the get-go, especially to audiences familiar with those same trappings and those curious to see how the metaphorical sausage is made. Bewitched, having magic in its D.N.A., indulges in some reality-breaking hilarity. In one example involves trademark infringing antics in a supermarket. It is safe to say that the film has a loving affection for the show, and all too familiar insight into the behind-the-scenes of show business, that is also peppered with creative cameos from James Lipton and Conan O’Brien, even Stephen Colbert shows up, though not in character.
The high contrast visuals and progressive approach to its retro source material evoke strong memories of The Stepford Wives, another Nicole Kidman project from around the same time. Speaking of Nicole Kidman, her Isabel is authentic in this subverted fish-out-of-water setting. She is not alone in leading this film, as Will Ferrell’s performance has his trademark energy, he bends his character in many ways in order, to get the audience on his side and in some cases against him. Characters from the old show sometimes pop up, in cute ways, a lot of the times off the stage. This is far from saying that the film is unimaginative, far from it. New characters such as Isabel’s warlock father, played appropriately by Michael Cane, Isabel also receives friendship from Maria played by Kristin Chenoweth and Wyatt has his agent played by Jason Schwartzman offering him support and all feel like they could have walked off the show themselves.
Bewitched is an interesting adaptation, being not so much about the original yet paradoxically everything about it. It does not feel like anything you would expect but if followed will give fans of the show some fresh levels of enjoyment. Those who did not watch the show would still have an enjoyable time with the supernatural romance, and the zany comedic elements. The enchantment is there from the cast to help this curious concoction sparkle. In the alluring spell of remakes and reboots, Bewitched is a film that is clever in the way it works its magic.
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