So they're remaking something. What else is new?
By Todd Leopold
Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in "Bewitched."
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(CNN) -- "Bewitched," a feature film based on the '60s TV series, comes out this weekend.
And yes, the culture is going down the toilet, as it does every time the big Hollywood studios remake some old baby boomer boob tube friend, such as "S.W.A.T." or "The Brady Bunch" or "Charlie's Angels" or "The Beverly Hillbillies" or "Starsky & Hutch" or "The Montefuscos." (OK, so they haven't gotten to that one yet.)
Pardon me if I yawn. When has Hollywood ever had lots of fresh ideas?
From the beginning, the studios have optioned books, plays, musicals, news stories and even individual songs ("Ode to Billie Joe," "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia") to turn into filmed entertainment. They've cannibalized characters, remade classics, churned out sequels.
Sometimes the films work better than the originals. Sometimes you're better off with the source material.
If there's a problem with turning TV shows into movies, it's usually that the films are lazy. The studios figure that you already love the characters, so why bother with such appendages as plot, depth and good writing? With rare exceptions -- "The Fugitive" comes to mind -- it's easier to plop the characters into a situation that would be familiar to any TV Land fan. The film sells itself.
But then, that's generally true of the "written"-for-the-screen Hollywood movies nowadays, too. Especially during the summer, when car explosions and pop-culture references substitute for action and genuine wit.
So here comes "Bewitched," and it's that rare TV show-movie that tries to do something new. See, it's a movie about a studio wanting to remake the TV series -- except it stumbles on an actual witch for the Samantha Stevens role.
Does hilarity ensue? Eye on Entertainment twitches its nose.
Nicole Kidman, who last year made "The Stepford Wives" -- a film remake of a film based on a book -- plays Isabel Bigelow, a witch trying to go mortal. Will Ferrell plays Jack Wyatt, who's been cast as Darrin Stevens in a new TV version of "Bewitched."
Jack sees Isabel and decides she'd be a perfect Samantha. Of course, he doesn't know that she is a perfect Samantha.
Kidman and Ferrell are joined by Michael Caine as Isabel's rakish father Nigel, Shirley MacLaine as Endora and Steve Carell as Uncle Arthur.
Early reviews have given filmmaker Nora Ephron, who co-wrote the script with her sister Delia, compliments for trying to put a spin on a movie-sitcom plot. But most have added that the movie falls apart when, toward the end, it turns into a sitcom itself, jettisoning whatever skewed ideas it had for a conventional romantic comedy third act.
But then, that part's just standard Hollywood movie magic.
"Bewitched" opens Friday.
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