Director Harold Ramis (ANALYZE THIS and GROUNDHOG DAY) has remade the
1967 film BEDAZZLED, starring Dudley Moore, and, in short, it's a hoot.
In fact it is so successfully funny and sweet that it almost makes you
thankful for Hollywood's much maligned tendency to remake old films
rather than risk creating completely new ones. Almost.
When we meet Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser in another charmingly
hilarious performance), he is the cubical clown. An obnoxious office
worker, he is the type who causes his coworkers to hide when they see
him coming. A born loser, he is a little boy who doesn't have a clue
how to grow up. He may have the sexual and romantic desires of an
adult, but he has the social skills of the most unpopular kid in seventh
Right now he is pining for Allison, preciously played by Frances
O'Connor (MANSFIELD PARK), a woman who has the natural good looks of a
shampoo model. Allison works for the same company that he does, and a
few years ago he even said something to her about the weather when he
saw her in the lobby. "Dear God, I would give anything to have that
girl in my life," he says to himself after getting a polite brush off
from her when he runs into her at a nightclub.
God doesn't answer, but the other side does, in the strikingly beautiful
person of Elizabeth Hurley, as The Devil. Hurley is playful, witty,
erotic, conniving and perfect as the Princess of Darkness. It is by far
and away the best thing that she has ever done.
As you can guess, wishes become a dangerous thing for Elliot. The
Devil, literally dumping a tome of a contract on him that only the IRS
could love ("I, Elliot Richards, hereafter called The Damned, ..."),
makes him a simple bargain. He can have any seven wishes he wants in
return for his soul.
These seven wishes form seven wholly contained and wildly funny
episodes. The interludes between wishes are equally humorous as The
Devil wreaks small incidents of chaos and destruction on the populace as
a way to pass the time until she collects Elliot's soul.
The Devil tries to explain to Elliot what a miserable job she has.
"It's not easy being the Barbra Streisand of evil, you know," she
confides in him, who isn't particularly sympathetic as she is making his
life, well, hell. She delights in letting him hang himself by not
specifying enough of the fine print on his wishes. When he asks to be
married and rich, for example, he doesn't think to specify how faithful
his wife will be or the origin of his newfound wealth.
The Devil and Elliot's costumes and makeup are more than worth the price
of admission. When we first glimpse Beelzebub, she is in a killer of a
tight fitting red dress with maximum cleavage. Other outfits include a
meter maid in hot pants and a mini-skirted teacher that would be every
high school boy's fantasy. Elliot's look ranges from that of a model
for the cover of a bodice-ripper novel to the world's dumbest and
largest jock. His various teeth alone are such a source of mirth that
they should be worth some kind of special Oscar consideration.
The movie does a great job of getting all of the details right.
Elliot's first wish, for example, is his simplest, but watch how much
comedic gold they mine from the way The Devil even cons Elliot out of
his own money.
Larry Gelbart, Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan's script, based on the 1967
version by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, is full of great lines. It has
Elliot, depending on his current wish, sounding pompously pretentious,
idiotically inarticulate or saccharinely sentimental. ("Do you need
comforting on any level?" a nerdy Elliot with little teeth and short
curly, red hair inquires of Allison, which freaks her out. "Have I said
or done anything to make you feel less good about you?")
Rather than becoming repetitive and eventually sagging, the comedy
builds energy as it goes. It has more big laughs than I could count,
with the Devil, who gets a bit less screen time, getting just as many as
Elliot. Actually just the costumes and other visuals were enough for
many of the laughs. The movie even finds a satisfying small twist to
wrap it up. BEDAZZLED is a good-spirited comedy that entertains us
every minute from the opening credits to the last scene. It's a real
BEDAZZLED runs a fast 1:33. The film is in English as well as Spanish
and Russian with English subtitles. It is rated PG-13 for sex-related
humor, language and some drug content and would be acceptable for kids
around 11 and up.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes