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BEDAZZLED

Review by Andrew Manning (10/00)

Release: 2000, 20th Century Fox
Starring: Elizabeth Hurley, Brendan Fraser, Frances O'Connor
Director: Harold Ramis
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] language, sexuality, violence
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 93 minutes


Meet the Devil. She's giving Elliott seven wishes. But not a chance in hell...



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SUMMARY

All wackiness ensues when the Devil (Hurley) grants socially inept loser Elliott (Fraser) seven wishes to make all his dreams come true. But the wishes come with a steep price: Elliott's immortal soul.

THE SUDDEN RUNDOWN

A sexy movie with some funny moments, but ultimately lifeless.

WHAT'S GOOD

For me (and hundreds of thousands of hot-blooded males out there), Bedazzled was about nothing except Elizabeth Hurley saucing it up as a sexy incarnation of the Devil. Whether slinking around in a red bikini or talking about spankings, the original Austin Powers babe simply oozed sexuality throughout this 90 minute flick. This is all a major plus in my book, and to me, the only relevant piece of information one needs to know.

Now, I could go on all day about Hurley's appeal. But in all fairness to the ladies out there, I'll try to give equal time to Bedazzled's male attraction, Brendan Fraser. A female reader recently reminded me that hordes of chicks out there are packing into theaters just to scam Fraser's squirrel--just as much as guys are eye-groping Hurley. I'll take her word for it, and will combine that fact with my own Hurley fantasies and simply say: this movie has a lot of sex appeal. It's the first and foremost thing Bedazzled has going for it. No one seems particularly interested in the "be careful what you wish for" story, so everything lies with the charisma of the stars.

Hurley and Fraser work well enough together, and because of the movie's material, Fraser is able to showcase a variety of personalities. Sick of being a techno-geek, Elliott wishes himself into several roles, including a basketball star and druglord, in order to land the girl of his dreams. But no matter what he asks for, the Devil has a way of screwing him over by granting his wish in the most literal sense. The result is a comical farce in which everything goes wrong. As in The Mummy and George of the Jungle, Fraser proves he has a knack for comedy by playing the eternally downtrodden.

All of this makes for entertaining, if not inspiring or original, viewing. Of course, there are problems...


WHAT'S BAD

I'm going to skip all the references to Faust the film critics are throwing around in an effort to sound lit-minded. Instead, I'm going to look at this from a movie fanatic's perspective and talk about director Harold Ramis. Ramis, who will always be Ghostbuster Egon Spengler to me, helmed the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day. With that in mind, it seems Ramis has a talent for taking a single idea, replaying it several times in the same movie, and yet having the material remain fresh enough to be watchable. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray relived the same day over and over until he got it right and earned the love of a woman. In Bedazzled, Brendan Fraser is being "reincarnated" over and over until he gets his affairs in order and earns the love of his woman. Pretty similar, huh?

The problem in all this is that Bedazzled isn't nearly as structured as Groundhog Day, and is ultimately laid out in a very uneven manner. First, there are the scenarios that change with the granting of each wish--some sequences are hilarious, some are lukewarm, and others are just plain stupid. Second, Elliott's personality seems to change just as drastically as his surroundings, so much so that he doesn't seem like the same character we meet at the beginning of the film and sympathize with. If he's shy and awkward to begin with, shouldn't he at least be a little shy and awkward in the next scene? This is in stark contrast to Murray's character in Groundhog Day, who we actually saw grow and transition gradually and believably throughout the whole movie.

As can be expected, Bedazzled features the overplayed, corny lesson that "people should learn to be themselves." This standard Hollywood fluff is so commonplace that it restricts the movie from ever being anything more than...well, Hollywood fluff. This is the end note the story goes out on, and only serves to emphasize just how bad the conclusion is. There are several funny moments sprinkled throughout the film, but it's largely a downward curve. Needless to say, this is the type of flick that starts off a lot stronger than it ends up.

Because of the unevenness of the story, it's hard to latch onto any of the characters. Elliott isn't particularly likeable all the time, and the girl he is eternally pining for never really amounts to much, as she doesn't become anything more than a trophy in the movie. The assumption that we're supposed to care about her just because Elliott does is a bit of a stretch. Personally, I thought Elliott should dump his pipedreams and try to hook up with the Hurley Devil. But hey, maybe that's just my succubus fantasy coming out...


Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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