Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Bewitched

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language, including sex and drug references, and partial nudity

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive—due to positive portrayal of fantasy witchcraft. Otherwise, better than average.
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Comedy, Romance, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
June 24, 2005 (wide)<
Featuring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Steve Carell
Director: Nora Ephron
Producer: Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

Witch in the Bible

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

What is the Occult? Answer


Instead of taking the old show and reheating it for the modern generation, “Bewitched” has been lovingly remembered in this film, and Elizabeth Montgomery and the original cast has been given respect where respect is deserved.

Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman has nailed this comedic part, once again showing her talent knows no boundaries) is a 21st century witch looking to give up her spellbound lifestyle for the human side of life. She wants a little house in the valley and to experience the normal, or what she conceives to be the normal, uncomplicated existence of pure human culture. Although, through the first few scenes, we see it isn’t as easy as she had hoped, Isabel vows valiantly that each little spell will be her last.

Isabel’s Dad (a sophisticated Michael Caine) shows up to give Isabel some fatherly advice that is sadly off the mark in any culture. When Isabel explains she doesn’t crave the instant gratification that a witch has, but rather is looking for love, real love. She is looking for someone to love her for herself and not for what she can do for him. Isabel wants a man who truly needs her. Daddy says that’s too complicated, that it is much easier to say “I love you” to get someone to go home with you, and then when things get “messy” just say “I don’t love you any more” and be done with it. Isabel instinctively knows that’s not the right road and sets off to find the rightful path to true spell-free happiness.

Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) does not disappoint. He had ’em rolling in the aisles. He plays an actor on the brink of being a has-been. His sly agent has gotten him the plush part of Darrin on the new, improved TV show “Bewitched” and encourages Jack to be an animal, fiercely insisting on getting all that he deserves as the high ranking star he is. Although Jack is really a pussy cat inside, he takes his agent’s advice and demands many nearly undoable requests including turning down all well known actresses for the part of Samantha, and demands a totally unknown face. The “nose” is a big selling point for Jack, and his crew has casting call after casting call searching for “The Nose.”

Isabel, needing a job, goes to Book Soup on Sunset in hopes of finding a how-to book about job hunting. Jack happens to be there and is mesmerized by the tweak of her nose just before a sneeze. He has found his Samantha at long last.

Jack persuades Isabel to read for the part on a new TV show, and since Isabel needs a job, she decides it wouldn’t be so bad to be a famous TV star. At the rehearsal, everyone is impressed that Isabel is such a natural for the part of a witch that she is instantly signed on as Samantha Stevens.

As Isabel is so very innocent about just what “normal” is, she is easily seduced into thinking Jack actually loves her when she and he are in character. Because she intuitively sees Jack’s real self and understands he is a hopeless mess, this makes him even more adorable to her. He is attracted to her, but is put off course while doing every ruthless thing his agent tells him to do to keep up his sagging image. Isabel, overhearing a conversation between Jack and his agent, concludes he never cared about her after all and is deeply hurt.

“What would Samantha do?” is her question, and being a witch Samantha would use her knowledge of spells to win Jack’s heart. With the help of Isabel’s Aunt Clara (a throw back to the original series) a hex is put upon Jack who instantly becomes a little too enamored of Isabel, to her despair. Isabel, knowing a spell will never give her true love from Jack, undoes Aunt Clara’s hex and rewinds time to put it back into reality. Isabel takes the chance of letting things take their natural course, even though she may loose Jack forever.

Through the timeline of today and watching episodes of the original “Bewitched”, somehow Isabel gets what is reality and what is not, confusing as that may be to her. Just imagine trying to find true love in a world where make believe is natural, then throw in the fact that she is indeed a witch and could change it all to her advantage if she so desired. Isabel proves to be a strong and moral person after all is said and done. After calling a spade a spade (“Jack, you’re a selfish, self centered jerk!”), Isabel is taken seriously, and Jack asks for her forgiveness with a heart felt “I’m sorry,” not an easy thing for an actor with an over blown ego to nurture (not to mention the agent).

Just when we think all is well, the x-wife shows up wanting to come back into Jack’s life mainly because she smells all his new money. Isabel is nearly overcome with urges to use her spells to fix this situation, and in the end a few ear tugs do the trick. She feels awful about using her powers again after she promised herself she wouldn’t and is determined to tell Jack she is in fact a real witch. This confession causes another set of misunderstandings (not to mention scaring poor Jack senseless), and the star-crossed lovers separate in a whirlwind of magic tricks and flying brooms.

In the end, Uncle Arthur (another character from the original “Bewitched”) comes to the rescue and convinces Jack that Isabel is the one and only girl for him. The couple are reminded that even though Samantha and Darrin were caught between two worlds, their love made it work because it was true love—no tricks.

There is no place in life to try and coheres someone into love. It must happen naturally, as God intended it to be between two people. An awe struck Isabel says it all when she whispers at the end, “Something magical happened all by itself!”

Let’s keep in mind that this is a fantasy. There was not much objectionable material as far as the witchcraft went because this story was not so much about witchcraft as human character and comedy. Many of that generation will love the fact that they kept the original TV show intact and didn’t mess with it except for some enhanced special effects.

The movie has fun with Ferrell on the star trip, and with Kidman’s love-hate relationship with magic. It has a lot of good supporting work, including Jason Schwartzman as Jack’s agent and Shirley McClaine as Samantha’s mother (her theory on actors: “Sometimes deep down there is no deep down”).

The PG-13 rating has finally got it pretty much right with this one. There were only two profanities uttered and a couple of boarder-line utterances of “Don’t be a pussy-wussy” and “Don’t be the Mayor of pussy-town; be the Sheriff of ballsville,” when the agent character is trying to get Jack’s character to be a go-getter with his career.

There were two scenes which were keyed down, but will send up a red flag to Christian parents. Isabel’s Dad is a definite womanizer and is very open about catching women only to seduce them (he finds true love in the end, and we are made hopeful that his philandering days are over). There is also a scene where Jack has a dream he appears on Conan O’Brian’s talk show naked (there are blurred out areas on Will Ferrell’s body, but there is no doubt he is completely nude). There is a comment by one character about having sex on an elliptical machine.

I was impressed with the fact that falling in love was sweet and fun, and there was no sex between Isabel and Jack. They knew they were in love because they liked each other as they were and were willing to accept each other as they were—rather than try and change each other.

People may go to see “Bewitched” for different reasons, and some critics may criticize it for it’s lacking in some form or another. I went to see it for the sake of nostalgia and got much more. Pure comedy, from a more relaxed, innocent time we will never experience again.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Neutral—When “Bewitched” was rerunning throughout my childhood, my parents didn’t allow me to watch it. I think diehard fans may be slightly disappointed. It’s not that the movie isn’t cute, it just fails to produce consistent magic. There are a lot of adorable moments in the show that will have audiences laughing. It’s charming to see Isabel so enchanted with a way of life that we’ve become accustomed to. Everything seems so normal to her, and it gets to the point where we’re astonished and delighted when abnormal things happen… such as seeing Nigel on a green beans can.

One thing I was delighted with was Kristin Chenoweth’s appearance as the next door neighbor. Broadway fans such as myself will get a giggle out of her presence… because she currently plays Glenda, “the Good Witch,” in Wicked! on Broadway. She even briefly sings! Nicole’s little nose-twitch is adorable, and the movie actually doesn’t have a bad plot… but something isn’t working. It’s either that the charm of seeing them try and film “Bewitched” over that falls flat, or the performance by Will Ferrell. I have never liked him as an actor, and his Jack is over the top and unlikable.

In a romantic comedy, you have to want the key characters to get together. I never wanted Isabel with him. I think the film would have worked with a different thespian in the part, someone with a little more charm. If you can view it merely as a fairy tale, “Bewitched” is harmless. But if it engages your interest in supernatural powers, it may be dangerous.
My Ratings: Average/4½
Charity Bishop, age 22
Positive—Being a big fan of Nicole Kidman, I found it hard to stay away. Christians should be aware that this film openly “advertises” witchcraft and the occult as if it is something innocent. Apart from that, it was very entertaining, and it was a refreshing way of re-doing the original. It was a great way of reminding us that it is better and more fulfilling to let love take its course than to use spells and tricks to get our way. Even if you might lose it is better to be honest with the one you love. Great acting by Nicole and Will Ferell and the supporting cast did a wonderful job. I have not seen the original series, but I believe that the makers of the film did it justice. Overall, it was well done.
My Ratings: Average/3
—Alejandra Orozco, age 22
Positive—First off, let me just state that I understand I have a soft spot for my comedic hero Will Ferrell, and probably will always cut him some slack. Having that said, I must say I truly and honestly enjoyed this movie A LOT! I had read many critic reviews before going and was a little worried by the mainly negative feedback, but because it is Will Ferrell I went against their judgment and was happy I did. Bewitched, first of all, was SUPER clean for it’s PG-13 rating, and I have a feeling that the studio asked for the PG-13 rating because of how much better PG-13 movies do than PG movies when they aren’t aimed at a child audience. Will Ferrell was great in this, and it was the first movie I actually like Nicole Kidman. The whole cast did a fantastic job (but come on, can Michael Caine ever really mess up?) It has been 3 days since I saw the movie, and I am still smiling about it. Maybe it is the fact that I am in love with love and found “Bewitched” to be a nice romantic comedy without all the sex that Hollywood usually throws in. Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman don’t even talk about any relations, but it does show them in love and eventually getting married. Great movie! I loved it. If you usually go see PG-13 movies, you will actually find this movie refreshing for how clean it really is.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Andrew, age 21
Positive—Take this movie for what it is: a light hearted, funny, romantic film. Yes, the central character is a witch, and there is one scene where 4 women dress up as witches and put a hex on someone. As a Christian, I know that God would not want me to be involved with witchcraft, but in watching this movie you can’t take the magic seriously. It’s all just in fun. I would be more concerned about the subtleties they throw in about being able to divorce if you haven’t chosen the “right” person. There are other subtleties that are interwoven into the film such as these. Let’s face it, Hollywood is never going to make a movie that aligns exactly with God’s commands. So just choose according to what will or will not make you stumble in your Christian walk. Movie witchcraft is not going to make me turn from Jesus, but for others it may not be good to be watching.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Maria Gottuso, age 36
NegativeNicole Kidman and Will Ferrell need better vehicles for their talents. This movie was so boring that my husband and I could barely get through it. We only stayed with it in the hope that there would be a plot twist to make it interesting. Although the movie deals with the occult (Kidman plays a witch), it really doesn’t glorify witchcraft. One never leaves thinking, “Oh, I wish I had that power,” the way viewers watching the Harry Potter films might. For this reason, I give it an average moral rating, rather than an offensive one. However, as we all know, average morality in our society is a very low standard indeed. Don’t waste your money on this one!
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Ashley, age 42

Comments from young people
Positive—It wasn’t a great movie, but it was fun and pleasant, and as a fan of the TV show I wasn’t disappointed. I’m glad it wasn’t a direct remake of the show, it was a little different, which is a good thing. There was a bit of sexual humor, but nothing too bad. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of the series or a fun romantic comedy.
My Ratings: Average/3½
—Dustin, age 17
Neutral—This is a good movie, from what I see though is, they kinda went a little over the top with a few stuff. Nothing in particular, just somethings annoyed me. Now I will say, it was funny, exciting, and a movie that kept me watching. It kinda took too much attention from the real bewitched series than I think was expected, I mean after all it is “Bewitched.” But all in all, it was good, had humor, and it’s a nice family get together movie, kinda a warm movie, kinda annoying at points, but good. Advised for watching.
My Ratings: Good/3½
—L.M, age 13
Positive—This film was very cute. It had it’s funny moments but was not quite as memorable as it could have been.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3½
—Sarah, age 17
Negative—…left fairly disappointed. I love the original Bewitched so my draw is obvious. Also I think Kidman a talented actress. What I unfortunately found was a badly written and cheezy script and poor acting. One other reason that I didn’t enjoy it as much is I was surprised by some more crude speech than was mentioned. When the hex on Jack goes bad he starts to suggest many unusual places that they could make love and there were a couple other innuendos mentioning a “dick.” Don’t misunderstand though there were some cute parts and you can get caught up in the “magic” of it all if the above wouldn’t bother you.
My Ratings: Average/2
—Wesley C., age 16
Neutral—I didn’t expect much going in to see this movie, which is good, because it didn’t turn out to be much. The plot was somewhat nonexistent and hard to follow. There wasn’t really anything morally wrong with this movie, despite the basis on witchcraft and spells and such. There were also a few sexual comments, but nothing too bad. I wouldn’t recommend spending money to see it in the theater, but it’s cute enough to be a good rental.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Amy, age 15
Positive—I saw this movie with my two best friends and we all thought it was HILARIOUS!!! I know that the occult is bad and against what the bible says is right, but I love watching the original “Bewitched” reruns. It’s kinda like Sabrina, they didn’t really actually summon demons, or read a spell book. All she did was tug her ear and whatever she wanted to happen happened. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I LOVED the movie!
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Leila, age 16
Positive—I feel that movie is a sweet film that doesn’t come across as offensive. It is more of a comedy then a glorification of witchcraft. There are barely any curse words and no sex that is a rare find in films these days.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Katie, age 17

COMMENTS FROM NON-VIEWERS

Negative—Two reasons I’m not going too see this movie. 1. Shirley MacLaine is in this movie. 2. Occult…
—Thomas Dickensheets, age 43
Negative—God commands His people to have nothing to do with witches or witchcraft of any description under the harshest possible terms: death, both temporal and eternal. Why then is “Bewitched,” a movie whose central character is a witch, acceptable… If the “morality” of the movie makes it acceptable, that is an invalid reason. Morality that does not have God as its foundation is no more than a tool of the Devil. (See the excellent movie “Time Changer” for a wonderful treatment of this idea.) Regardless of the quality of “Bewitched” or the beauty of its message, its central character is a witch and is therefore an enemy of God. Too often Christians un-critically accept entertainment with a good message but with an evil subject. How can we expect God’s approval if we approve of His enemy? How can we condemn sin if we allow ourselves to be entertained by it?
—Peter Rhebergen, age 44
Negative—I’m just wondering why any Christian would promote witches and warlocks, magic, spells, curses and hex’s. There’s nothing sweet or fun about the occult!!
—Lisa, age 38
Negative—I will not go see this movie because there is no “white magic” all magic is of the devil, and as a Christian, I want nothing to do with the devil.
—Angelia Clabough, age 35
Negative—Living in modern society, we as Christians have allowed Satan to fool us with seemingly innocent stories, movies, games, toys and beliefs. We are at war! And Evil will stop at nothing to keep us distracted, so that we live this life with no knowledge of God. It is evident with the endless cycle of regurgetated garbage they continue to feed our society, generation after generation. Seems everything is being redone. “Nothing is new under the sun.” Nothing! Therefore, guard your hearts. I know it is very difficult in our society, because we are so blessed, and everyone seems to take things lightly, but never forget…“He who gives up his life for me will gain eternal life.”

How committed and steadfast do you think Jesus asks us to be? If you have seen Bewitched the series, or the movie, or even the broadway play… It will never ever, feed your soul. Save your money, but more importantly, protect your heart. One word in the Bible has more spiritual food than a 1000 movies. We must be aware at all times. Do not judge things by your own heart, or opinion, or feelings… Compare it to what God says in His word. For His word is Life and anything apart from Him is death. Praise be to the Lamb of God.
—Jose Rodriguez, age 31
Negative—Living in modern society, we as Christians have allowed Satan to fool us with seemingly innocent stories, movies, games, toys and beliefs. We are at war! And Evil will stop at nothing to keep us distracted, so that we live this life with no knowledge of God. It is evident with the endless cycle of regurgitated garbage they continue to feed our society, generation after generation. Seems everything is being redone. “Nothing is new under the sun.” Nothing! Therefore, guard your hearts. I know it is very difficult in our society, because we are so blessed, and everyone seems to take things lightly, but never forget…“He who gives up his life for me will gain eternal life.” How committed and steadfast do you think Jesus asks us to be? If you have seen Bewitched the series, or the movie, or even the broadway play… It will never ever, feed your soul. Save your money, but more importantly, protect your heart. One word in the Bible has more spiritual food than a 1000 movies. We must be aware at all times. Do not judge things by your own heart, or opinion, or feelings… Compare it to what God says in His word. For His word is Life and anything apart from Him is death. Praise be to the Lamb of God.
My Ratings: Offensive/3
—Jose Rodriguez, age 31
Negative—Many posts here have reviewed this movie as “Positive” while at the same time saying, “I know that Witchcraft is bad” Witchcraft is bad and is sin. Promoting, furthering, supporting, or being entertained by Witchcraft is also a sin. If we are aware that the Bible says not to do it, we don’t become less accountable by saying, “but it’s such a good movie.” To look with lust is a sin. Would it be okay for a person to say, “I know the Bible says not to do it, but I really think pornography is fun.” Of course not. Christians, it is time to awake!! Follow the word of God or risk his judgment upon you. Don’t give your money to the people who are promoting a pagan agenda which seemingly innocent films such as this.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/3
—Tony Holland, age 33
Movie Critics
…tolerably entertaining… There is not a movie here. Just scenes in search of one.
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…an uninspired misfire of a TV-series knockoff…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Nicole Kidman usually has a nose for smart projects, but here the Oscar winner wiggles hers into one big mess…
—E! Online
…Not magic, but not a standard witchy-washy remake either….
—Jill Vejnoska, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…The joy is Kidman, beautiful and bubbly, all but channeling Montgomery’s twitching nose and savoring her reign as the screen’s most… well, bewitching star.
—Stan Urankar, Sun Newspapers of Cleveland
…For a movie about an enchantress, “Bewitched” lacks magic… Bewitched continues Kidman’s one-woman campaign to destroy our happy entertainment memories from days past. So far, she has ruined “The Stepford Wives” and zapped “Bewitched”.
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…Abhorrent… endorsement of witchcraft and elitism…
—Movieguide