August 1, 2000 -- "Bedazzled" is a movie that has plenty of talent on both sides of the camera, but doesn't produce much bang for the firepower it has. Maybe Hollywood should consider a new screenplay every now and then instead of all these remakes.
"Bedazzled" is, indeed a remake of a 1967 film of the same name. Instead of Dudley Moore and Raquel Welch, we have Brendan Frazier and Elizabeth Hurley (the same Liz who ran afoul of the union). Frazier (star of "The Mummy" and "Gods and Monsters"), plays Elliot, a hopeless nerd who can't connect with people. Hurley plays the devil, who tempts him with seven wishes in return for his soul.
This battle of wits is a complete mismatch, of course. Even though Frazier gets numerous wishes (way more than seven), there's always a catch that makes the wish less than desirable. It is sort of like the story of the guy who asks an evil genie for a million dollars and gets a huge bale of $1 bills dropped on his head, killing him. Frazier gets his wishes, but it never comes out right. He wishes to be popular, to be big, to be athletic, to be sensitive, to be witty and charming. There's always a catch.
Hurley and Frazier are fine in their roles, but the story never quite clicks. For one thing, Hurley is no devil. She is way too nice. She is not evil enough. She's more of a prankster. The notion of evil as a sinister, corrupting, driving force behind what is worst in society, gets lost somewhere. Greed, avarice, the worshiping of false gods, selfishness, adultery and pride ought to be a simple connection for Hollywood types to make and there is certainly adequate fodder for a movie there, but this film misses the mark almost entirely. Director Harold Ramis' earlier film "Groundhog Day" is a much better example of how to explore human weaknesses and strengths.
Parts of the film are funny, but it lacks consistency. It also tries to be a love story and it fails on that account as well. Elliot does grow up some during the film and he learns to stand up for himself. He becomes more assertive, but why this transition happens is not really explained. Each time Elliot makes a wish, he seems to go into an alternate state of reality where his mind and body and life situation change drastically. There seems to be no easy way to connect those alternate realities to his initial reality or to his final reality, especially since he spends only a very brief time in each of these realities. Each wish is like a five-minute comedy sketch. Nothing is really developed. There is no mechanism to bridge these experiences. While the film is funny at times, it fails to connect on a basic level. It rates a C.
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