View Date: October 21st, 2000

Cast :

Brendan Fraser .... Elliot Richards
Elizabeth Hurley .... The Devil
Frances O'Connor .... Alison/Nicole
Miriam Shor .... Carol/Penthouse Hostess
Orlando Jones .... Dan/Esteban/Beach Jock/Sportscaster/African Party Guest
Paul Adelstein .... Bob/Roberto/Beach Jock/Sportscaster

Writers: Larry Gelbart, Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan (based on original by) Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Director: Harold Ramis

Movies have a tendency to touch an emotion deep inside us, an escapism and dream of what we could be, or where we could go, the movies can be our guide on this journey of exploration.  Sometimes it’s not just the realism of a movie that we can relate to, but also those that tap into a desire that secretly burns inside us.  Most of us often wonder what if, or what it would take to get anything and everything we want out of life.  The easier, the better, since hard work is rarely something that is desired in order to gain something.  What if our wishes and desires could be granted by the simple wave of a hand, twitch of nose, or even something as simple as selling your soul to the devil (“Have you ever seen your soul? It really is rather insignificant”).  Bedazzled, a remake of a Dudley Moore movie from the early 70s, deals with a man who makes just such an agreement.  He sells his soul, in exchange for having 7 wishes to do with as he pleases.  The story attempts to tap into the psychology of what we do to get what we want, and clarifying exactly what it takes to make us happy.  A promising idea, that gets lost amidst an inconsistent script, and some Saturday Night Live style wish sequences.  The overall effect is a smile, but very little more, since after that smile, comes a groan of despair based upon wasted potential of the story, and a wonderful multi faceted performance from Fraser.  Oh what could have been.

Fraser is shown early on as a typical loser.  He is mocked by his co-workers, and really turned into a nerd and that guy at work, or in society that everyone mocks, coddles and ultimately laughs at behind their back.  Fraser is living in his own world, where he cannot see what is happening around him, or at least doesn’t take it seriously, but he is a lonely man, with a crush.  The object of his affection is Allison, whom he fantasizes and wishes for.  Enter Hurley, as someone who can make Fraser’s dreams come true, for one measly little soul.  She is of course, the devil (with offices in Hell, Purgatory and Los Angeles).  The deal is, Fraser gets 7 wishes, and Hurley gets his soul. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it, but the failure comes in the execution.  Fraser proves that is multi-talented and can pull off a number of different types of roles, from Columbian drug lord, to over-sensitive nerd, to basketball star, even to President Lincoln.  His previous roles have shown this, from playing it silly most of the time (Encino Man, Airheads) to his touches of drama (School Ties, Gods and Monsters) that he should do more often.  In this film, he gets to show off the facets, but isn’t given much material to work with.  The wish scenes seem like a series of similarly themed Saturday Night Live skits.  They are one-note, good for an initial laugh, but dragged out a bit too much.  Someone needed to tell Ramis, usually very good at comic timing (Groundhog Day, Analyze This) when the joke was over, and when the laughs of humor turned into nervous laughs of  “when is this going to be over.”   Linking these skits together are some wonderful scenes of Hurley, who exists to feed every male fantasy (from cheerleader, to schoolgirl, to meter maid) and who uses her devilish powers to exert societal influence.  These scenes are funny; the overall effect of the movie is not.  The moral message of clarification of wishes and dreams becomes drowned out in it all.

Ultimately, Bedazzled is a good idea that goes on just a bit too long for its own good.  The premise has potential each time its done, because movie fans do seek an escape from reality, and dream of what they could have, and what it would take to get it.  Unfortunately, instead of capitalizing on this premise, the movie went for cheap, obvious and drawn out laughs, along with a slightly predictable and sentimental conclusion.  I can only slightly recommend this one, it’s innocent and harmless for a video rental, but my wish would have been for a more heart-felt movie whose focus was more on its ideal than its funny bone.($$ out of $$$$)

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