Bewitched delivers just what you'd expect: absolutely nothing.

Cursed 

Bewitched delivers just what you'd expect: absolutely nothing.

Bewitched may go down as the first movie about a fictional failed actor that creates a real-life failed actor. This hackneyed, hapless, utterly useless redo of an overrated 1960s sitcom is excruciating to sit through for a dozen reasons. But nothing is less tolerable than the sight of Will Ferrell being hung out to dry by Nora Ephron, who shouldn't be allowed to direct an elementary school Christmas pageant, much less a $100 million feature film. (How Ephron is allowed to keep collecting paychecks after the unholy trinity of Mixed Nuts, You've Got Mail and Lucky Numbers remains a mystery worthy of John Le Carré.) She strands him in the middle of the sitcom frame and begs him to find the laughs in her barren, lazy screenplay (written with sister Delia Ephron), making him look like a fool, not a clown. For once, the sweaty desperation that's fast becoming Ferrell's trademark (or his albatross) looks palpably real.

You'd feel sorry for Ferrell if he weren't this close to wearing out his welcome. As Jack Wyatt, a self-absorbed jackass trying to resurrect a moribund career by playing Darrin in a Bewitched remake, Ferrell is playing Ferrell playing some variation of his characters in Old School, Anchorman and the recent Kicking & Screaming. He's doing sketch comedy (the movie has enough story to fill about 12 minutes, give or take 11), this time with a brush as broad as Texas, and he will quickly discover how unforgiving the cinema's canvas is of small-screen actors who try too hard to fill up the blank spaces.

Nicole Kidman, as real-life witch Isabel cast to play make-believe witch Samantha opposite Jack in this remake-within-a-remake, fares no better, but for different reasons. If the Ephrons make Ferrell look like a schmuck, they reduce Kidman to the role of total idiot. Sadly, she obliges, dashing one more dollop of the audience's good will with yet another catastrophic offering of her own. Isabel, who apparently flew the short stick to school as a child, has no working understanding of the real world; she asks inane questions ("What's a dick?") as though she's a 3-year-old just learning to speak in complete sentences. This despite being hundreds of years old and the daughter of Michael Caine's Nigel, a charismatic womanizer who was world-weary when the world was still made of molten lava. Isabel can do anything with the tug of an ear -- except, apparently, act like a woman who's almost 40.

Bewitched is such an epic mess that Kidman and Ferrell never stand a chance; Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and the myriad other actors once attached to the project should thank their agents and warlocks at having been spared such a fate. (This remake went through dozens of writers and directors for more than a decade; apparently, Columbia Pictures execs gave up trying to make something good and barreled ahead with the dreck on hand.) The Ephrons miss even the easiest opportunities for laughs, choosing to go with none when even one would suffice.

To complain that a remake of Bewitched is pointless is, well, futile. It's certainly no more or less necessary than Sgt. Bilko or The Beverly Hillbillies or The Avengers. But when studios run out of ideas, there's always TV Land to rape and pillage in order to fill the coffers. But Bewitched is worse than just useless -- it's a waste of time, a waste of money (not yours, one hopes) and a waste of people like Amy Sedaris (who shows up in the last scene as neighbor Gladys Kravitz) and The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, the former as a writer who does little more than squint and smirk and the latter playing Paul Lynde playing Uncle Arthur in the only bearable and bubbly sequence the film can muster. A hex on everyone involved.

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