Martin Short plays the first male fairy godmother, who comes to the aid of little Mara Wilson.
Anyone who's ever seen him on Saturday Night Live knows Short can be a funny guy. And anyone who's ever seen Smile knows Ritchie can be a funny director. However, the pairing here proves to be less a match made in heaven and more a case of talent adrift on an ocean of cutesy kids' material.
Short is Murray, an incompetent fairy godmother who, when Wilson recruits his services to help her widowed pop (Robert Pastorelli) land the lead in a new Broadway show, makes the occasional mistake - landing them in Nebraska, turning dad into a statue, that sort of thing. However, Murray gets a chance to redeem himself when the evil Claudia (Turner), an excommunicated fairy godmother, crashes the big fairy godmother annual dinner and makes off with all their magic wands. Save for one - Murray's, which he left in Wilson's apartment.
Short has his moments, but most of them rely on computer-generated effects, while the plot gives the distinct impression of constantly being in search of a better idea. Ritchie directs in a workmanlike fashion, showing little interest for his material. On the plus side, Wilson proves she's still the least irritating child star in the history of Hollywood.
When you get to the point where not even the sight of Turner chewing every piece of scenery in sight can retain interest, you know you're in trouble.