It goes without saying that Bewitched owes a lot to the 1960s sitcom that inspired it. Fans of the show can rest easy—Nicole Kidman proves perfectly capable of the magical nose-twitching that made Elizabeth Montgomery everyone's favorite televised witch.
In recent years, we've seen far too many episodic television shows pumped up to forgettable, feature-length versions. Writer/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail) deserves kudos for her smart game plan. She might have re-contextualized characters like Samantha the witch, her bumbling husband Darrin, and her imperious mother Endora, in contemporary surroundings (The Honeymooners). Or, she could have "spiced up" the old mix with today's too-dirty-for-prime-time humor (Starsky and Hutch). Instead, she conjures a premise that captures the spirit of the original while developing a new and engaging scenario.
Thus, Bewitched is just as likely to remind viewers of other popular big screen comedies, and it borrows ideas from several. Like the hero of Groundhog Day, Isabel the witch (Kidman) has the capability of reliving situations and correcting her mistakes. And, taking a note from Bruce Almighty, Isabel manipulates her circumstances with godlike powers—even scrambling the speech of her love interest, Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) when he doesn't cooperate—until she learns that that human limitations might be a good thing after all.
But there's another film that Bewitched resembles in surprising ways: Wim Wenders's Cannes-award-winning masterpiece Wings of Desire. Like that film's central character, an angel named Damiel, Isabel walks amongst troubled human beings, mystified by their limitations, trying to imagine how it would feel to be one of ...1
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