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EW review: 'Bewitched' TV show holds up

By Dalton Ross
Entertainment Weekly

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Christian Bale
Elizabeth Montgomery
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(Entertainment Weekly) -- Did you know that if you film a scene, tell everyone to hold really, really still, shut off the camera, add a prop of some sort, and then turn the camera back on -- it looks like magic? It's true!

But you probably suspected that already. And considering that 75 percent of the humor from the original "Bewitched" is derived from said camera stunts -- Elizabeth Montgomery used special crutches to hold poses while crew members added/removed items from the set -- it may not be quite as hysterical as you remember.

That's not a slam on the show. For 1964, a conventional suburban comedy with a most unconventional witch in the lead role was inventive, certainly more inventive than a certain Hollywood remake, so you can hardly blame producers for milking Samantha's trademark nose twitch (actually more of an upper-lip shimmy).

Not to say that all of "Bewitched" hasn't aged well. (And I'm not referring to season 1 being available in both its original black-and-white and a new colorized version; other than Dick York looking a little too George Hamilton-ian at times, the color one isn't bad, but you'd still be wise to stick with the authentic article.) Montgomery and York's chemistry remains magical, especially when the former is tryingto protect the latter from her mortal-loathing mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead, who steals every scene she's in).

A two-part bonus featurette is typically fawning but does offer a few interesting tidbits -- such as how Moorehead got cast after Montgomery and producer/husband William Asher spotted her in a Bloomingdale's, why Dick York left the show (extreme back pain), and that Samantha and Darrin were the first TV couple to share a bed. No doubt that's where the real magic happened.

'American Psycho'

Reviewed by Jeff Labrecque

Before Batman, Christian Bale was best known as Bateman -- Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street serial killer with a perverse appreciation of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis. Bret Easton Ellis' 1991 novel "American Psycho" was heavily criticized for rampant misogyny, but director Mary Harron impressively mines the dark social comedy from this scathing satire of the 1980s. Bateman almost seems sane when surrounded by his equally decadent yuppie pals, whose business-card rivalries are seeds for murderous mayhem.

Bale and Ellis regrettably pass on the EXTRAS, but co-writer Guinevere Turner's commentary helps clarify the ambiguous hallucinogenic last act of the film: ''We really set out -- and we failed -- to make it extremely clear that he was really killing these people.'' In the 42-minute doc ''From Book to Screen,'' Turner also reveals how Gloria Steinem, an outspoken critic of the book, reportedly urged Leonardo DiCaprio not to play Bateman -- which, ironically, paved the way for Bale, Steinem's future stepson, to be cast.

EW Grade: A-

'Diary of a Mad Black Woman'

Reviewed by Ty Burr

Writer/producer/star Tyler Perry admits in an interview that he was inspired to become a writer after watching an episode of "Oprah." That's fitting: Daytime talk-show addicts and African-American church ladies are the only -- I repeat, only -- audiences who could find this remotely watchable.

Perry has created a gruesome Frankenstein monster that's part "Waiting to Exhale" (trophy wife Kimberly Elise gets dumped and finds self-esteem with working-class Prince Charming), part "Meet the Klumps" (Perry plays three roles, including gun-toting Moms Mableyesque grandma Madea), and all overwritten, self-pitying black-chick romantic fantasy. "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" is fascinating as a social phenomenon, but how about filling this underserved audience niche with a good movie?

EXTRAS A chatty commentary by Perry; two chatty outtakes; a chatty, bland making-of featurette; trailers for DVDs of Perry's chatty plays; an instructional dance video (!); a ''Who is Tyler Perry?'' mini-bio; and ''Reflections on Diary,'' in which the filmmaker comes clean about his religious mission, describing the character of Madea as ''an incredible tool for me to reach the people who are unsaved.'' Well, he's got the tool part right.

EW Grade: B-


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