In a word?
Perhaps it all comes down to unwise expectations on my part, but here we go: I thought that casting Alec Baldwin as Campbell Alexander would be the most fabulous casting decision EVER. I was SO looking forward to seeing the spiciness of Campbell as written by Picoult multiplied by the awesomeness of Alec Baldwin. What we got was not even Campbell as portrayed by Dan Akroyd. It’s like they sucked all the air out of Baldwin before they let him in front of the camera. Lousy screenwriting and a disgusting waste of an actor.
What the screenwriting DID get right was that it gave the story a proper ending. Which is not difficult; they simply wrote the ending the novel should have had. This is the first Picoult book I read, and the ending pissed me off so hard I couldn’t bring myself to read another of her works for years afterward. (Then I read Plain Truth, which is much better.) Picoult wrote an otherwise outstanding story and then sold it down the river with an ending that was a great steaming pile of horseshit. I can just picture the movie producer looking at that and saying, “No, no, let’s try this again.”
The character of Sara Fitzgerald was also cast inappropriately; I think Cameron Diaz would make an excellent Gillian Owens if someone remade Practical Magic, but in MSK, we see too much Cameron and not enough Sara. The young actors were great, though; Abigail Breslin especially gave an excellent performance.