Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bewitched: Everybody Hurts Sometimes


Nina: What happened?

Isabel: He said I wasn't human.  And he waved a tree branch at me. 

Nina: There must be a solution.

Isabel: No, there isn't.  We are at the Coffee Bean and there is...no...solution.
Even the Worst Sort of Cinephilic Snobs have a Skeleton or Two in their Movie Collection...that copy of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle shoved toward the back of a shelf or a Beaches dvd no one must ever know about.  What's my Dirty Little Secret, you ask? (Well, I've so many but I'll stick the topic): Nora Ephron's 2005 version of Bewitched starring Michael Caine, Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, and Shirley MacLaine.  Its a terrible movie.  Yet, something in me connects to Kidman's character Isabel.  Her determination to set out on her own, find love, and experience "unsolvable" problems only to realize there is nothing romantic to be found in tears and pain.  As the film progresses, Isabel falls for Will Ferrell's character Jack.  All seems to be going well until she admits her own secret: She's a witch.  And of course, as one might expect, Jack responds to this news by accusing Isabel of casting spells on him, asking her to go away, and waving a tree branch at her in hopes of hurrying her along.  This news so devastates Our Heroine she quits her role as Jack's co-star in a reprisal of Bewitched, drives home, devours three burritos, and then smashes every dish in her house before meeting her friend, Nina, at the Coffee Bean to discuss the disaster. (See Quote Above)  One of my favorite moments in the film comes when Isabel's father, Nigel (i.e. Michael Caine) shows up and gives his daughter a bit of advice after her fallout with Jack.
Nigel: Something very odd is happened.
Isabel: It's not odd, it's what you predicted.  I'm leaving.
Nigel: I can't stop thinking about Iris.  You were right.  I don't belong here.  I find myself uninterested in any other woman.  Now, that's not natural.  Do you think there's a chance that...
Isabel: What?
Nigel: That she might be a witch?
Isabel: Don't be silly.
Nigel: And she put a spell on me?
Isabel: Please.
Nigel: Why not?  You're a witch.  I'm a witch.  She could be a witch.
Isabel: I guess she could.
Nigel: What else could it be?
Isabel: Love.  Isn't there a spell that can make you stop crying?
Nigel: No, darling, there isn't.
Isabel: He's idiotic, and yet I find him completely charming.  It's been like that since the beginning.  Only now, I also hate him.
Nigel: Love.
Isabel: Daddy, what am I gonna do?
Nigel: Go home.
Isabel: Where's that? 
Nigel: Wherever you've been the happiest.
Isabel's misery acts a mirror for my own inner turmoil.  For as long as I can remember I've longed to transform into my cousin.  We grew up together, like sisters.  Yet despite our similarities in appearance two girls (and then women) could not have been more different.  The Cheerleader to my Cross Country Runner.  The C Student to my Honor Roll.  And of course the Flirt to my Tag-along (I owe her you know.  Whatever wiles I possess I learned at her side)  Ginger's version of affection was easy to give away and easy to take back.  Mine was not.  She fell in and out out of love while I read books and brooded. Like Isabel, I waited for something to happen to me.  Then it did.  Unlike Ginger, my misery tends to last longer and I cry more tears.  Maybe that's why I enjoy those prolonged scenes of Isabel and Jack's mutual unhappiness during their fallout.  His despair and sadness as Little Trick or Treaters show up in Witch Costumes at his door.  Her inability to not associate him with the little pieces of her life.  But you know why else I enjoy Bewitched?  It has a happy ending.  I'm not sure I believe in those but I want them all the same.  Maybe like everyone else, I want to believe that despite the pain and tears, things can heal, grow back, and turn out the way we'd hoped in the beginning.  Or maybe better than in the beginning because the very process of learning to know another person causes some hurt and heartache no matter how delicate we try to be with one another.  Its how we deal with those moments that determine the end of the story.  Like the movie's soundtrack and R.E.M. assures us "Everybody Hurts Sometimes."  As for me, right now, I've smashed every dish in my house, skipped the three burritos, and tomorrow I'll sit in Quincy's Coffee Shop (my own version of the Coffee Bean) and look at my friend and say: "There is...no...solution."  But the truth is, down deep, like Isabel, I'm still holding onto a little hope.  How can a Gal who drinks her coffee out of a mug that reads: "Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?" do anything but hope? 


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