Once upon a time, in a land called Hollywood, there lived a tribe of people called ‘Film Makers’. These Film Makers used to tell wonderful tales, full of mystery, romance, intrigue, drama and passion, and they would entertain anyone with a few hours to spare. Over time, a neighbouring tribe called ‘The Money Men’ started to eye the land of Hollywood with envy – for they had seen the way those who sat down to hear one of the Film Makers’ tales would pay money to do so. Declaring war on the Film Makers, they eventually reached an uneasy truce – the Film Makers could only tell new tales if they were approved by The Money Men, and the lion’s share of the money would be taken away to their homelands.

BewitchedThere were those among the Film Makers who resisted this change in their fortunes, people like Kaufman, Gondry, Whedon, Payne and (PT) Anderson, and continued to produce quality tales, although these were far out-numbered by the dross The Money Men would approve. The struggle continues to this day. Today’s tale, however, is not of one of those brave resistance members, rather it’s the story of a young Film Maker who crossed over to the dark side, and produced Bewitched, a throw-away little romantic comedy with almost no artistic merit.

Nora and her evil sister Delia always wanted to fit in, and when they saw the power held over their family and friends by The Money Men, they just couldn’t wait to start producing fodder for the machine. One day, they were talking about an old television show they had liked, and they had a flash of inspiration – why not do a remake of that show? They still wanted to be able to tell their Film Maker friends that they weren’t completely sucking up to The Money Men, though, so they added a little twist. They would tell the story of a group of people including a Witch who is in love with a mortal, trying to remake the show about a Witch being married to a mortal! “What cunning!”, they thought, we’ll keep our friends and family happy, as well as The Money Men!

They knew they needed some big names to help them sell their tale, and there were none bigger than the man whom The Money Men loved most of all, as the crowds who gathered to listen to tales of his exploits were numerous indeed. That man was Ferrell, and he was tall, handsome, goofy and endearing, and Nora and Delia knew they were onto a winner. Matching Ferrell with a female who could play a Witch, and yet retain an appeal to the common folk who heard these stories, that was harder. Surely, many were considered, but in the end they decided to try to appeal to their Film Maker friends by casting one of their favourites, Kidman. “Throw in some old-timers like Caine and MacLaine, stars of yesteryear who thrilled audiences when there was still original work being produced, and we’ll mask our lack of innovation even more”, said Nora, and agree did Delia.

At first, Kidman and Ferrell produced some fun and excitement – they had an unexpected spark – but sadly over the time taken to tell their tale, it became more and more boring, and their appeals to our sense of humour more and more desperate. They became caricature instead of character, and Ferrell in particular fell into old traps. When he found he wasn’t able to make his audience smile, he would yell out and fall down, or perform some other cheap stunt, in a vain attempt to win them over.

BewitchedSeeing this, Nora and Delia decided to rely on all the oldest tricks of plotting and direction, and in the end we got what we always expected – a standard, no frills, no innovations comedy. For the evil sisters knew that many of their audience would love the comfort of being unchallenged by a story, and their appeal to that cohort would be the surest way to keep The Money Men happy. And they were so hopeful that their above-mentioned twist would help them retain some credibility amongst their Film Maker friends.

But Nora and Delia hadn’t counted on the evil of The Money Men, and their attempt at adding a twist was ruined by the pre-show advertising, which The Money Men required so they could increase the numbers of people wanting to hear the story. Their favourite way of torturing Film Makers was to release any and all of the crucial plot points, in what was called a ‘Trailer’, and this would be shown to anyone interested in seeing the story for several months before it was told. In this way, they found they could increase ticket sales, and keep a psychological control over their slave Film Makers as well.

In spite of these problems, many of the audience loved this new tale – so numbed were they by the years of adaptations and remakes, they had forgotten that once they had been lucky enough to hear fresh stories, told by Film Makers who weren’t telling them just for the benefit of The Money Men. There were few who remembered the glory days, when a fresh new tale was heard weekly in fora across the world, and even fewer who longed for the return of those days. And Bewitched sold many tickets indeed. Nora and Delia would no doubt continue to produce stories for The Money Men, and we would continue to watch them.

In this way, the land of Hollywood was lost to the Film Makers forever…

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 11th July 2005
Hoopla Factor: 1 stars

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