Bedazzled (2000)

Reviewed By Collin Souter
Posted 02/18/01 19:41:36

"My Seven Wishes For Contenporary Comedies"
3 stars (Average)

I had seven wishes going into Bedazzled and they hold true for most comedies. Harold Ramisí re-make of the classic Dudley Moore/ Peter Cook film of the same name granted some wishes then proceeded to take advantage of my loopholes on others. The Devil herself would have done the same thing. The wishes go as follows:

1. I wish they would stop doing re-makes of great movies. Instead, why not re-make mediocre ones? I love the original Bedazzled. It has become a cult favorite over the past couple decades, and with good reason. It has a satiric storyline, British humor, nuns on trampolines, and its aforementioned two leads. Both films tell the story of a nebbish, nerdish outsider (in this case Elliot, played by Brendan Fraser) who wants to win the heart of a woman he works with. The Devil (this time played by a female, Elizabeth Hurley) hears his wish, and grants him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. The guy keeps making wishes for a perfect life and the Devil consistently takes advantage of the loopholes, thus ruining the poor bastardís chance at eternal happiness.

When you think about it, Bedazzled seems like an obvious choice for a remake. The Faustian legend holds up no matter what time or place you tell it. While my wish for a ban on re-makes has not been granted, Ramis took advantage of my loophole with an entertaining movie nonetheless.

2. I wish women would get jucier roles in comedies. Elizabeth Hurley takes over the role originally played by Peter Cook. This casting choice bothered me from the get-go, but Hurley doesnít set out to re-do Cookís performance. She finds her own tone and character, and it results in an assured confident performance, even if she does evoke memories of Kelly LaBrock in Weird Science. So, the wish in this case has been granted, the loophole being that we have to lose the biting wit of Peter Cook.

3. I wish for more ďheartĒ in American comedies. Well, why not? Sure, I like a good dark, edgy comedy, but I also like a positive message about life. In the original, Dudley Mooreís character realized he wanted to try and get the girl on his own rather than resort to the Devil again. His life didnít seem so bad after the hell the Devil put him through. Here, the message has more to do with why we wish for things. It also tells us that we all have our sins and our vices. And unlike the original, the movie has a more complete happy ending. So, my wish in this case has been granted, at no expense.

4.I wish I could get a grip on Brendan Fraser. What a strange guy. I feel as though he should be doomed to play the standard villainous, hunky, dumb boyfriend role in dumb romantic comedies, but this guy likes to go all over the map. I didnít really think that much of him until I saw him in Gods and Monsters, in which he gave a wonderful dramatic performance that showed lots of promise. I also enjoyed him in the Indiana Jones-type role in The Mummy. Until now, he had yet to find a role to truly showcase his comedic talents, despite his attempts in George of the Jungle, Dudley Do-Right, and Blast From The Past.

Here, Fraser has to play six different kinds of roles, and he made me laugh with all of them, from his sensitive new-age guy to his 10-foot high basketball player whom I kept expecting to shout, ďSnap into a Slim Jim!Ē He also plays a very convincing spanish-speaking drug-lord with a phony mustache. If Fraser keeps up with performances such as these, he may have a bright future in comedy after all.

5. I wish there could be more inventiveness in comedies. Too many comedies feel fear of taking a different approach to the way they establish their theme. Here, Ramis and his team come up with what has to be the most inventive opening credits sequence of the year. It illustrates that we all lie, we all cheat and we all leave the seat up in the bathroom. The film also comes up with its own scenarios rather than just duplicate the originalís. One hilarious moment occurs when Elliot wishes to be President of the United States. The loophole: He didnít say which president.

6. I wish there could be less side-stepping of serious issues. Yeah, a lot of comedies these days feel pretty dumbed-down. Bedazzled may be one of them, but again Iím compelled to compare it to the original. I realize that may not be fair, but I canít help it. In the original, the Devil has his own conflict with God. The Devil chose to give the hapless loser (Dudley Moore) his soul back as a gesture of good will, which he felt would make God take him back to Heaven. We donít get any of that here. The film avoids the subject of God altogether, which cheapens it a bit. The wish here has not been granted.

7. I always wish there could be funnier movies. Well, my wish here has been granted. Bedazzled may not be a completely successful movie, but it did make me laugh and Iím glad I saw it. Fraser and Hurley may not be Moore and Cook, but Iíll take it anyway. Perhaps this will ignite peopleís interest in the original. Fox will re-release the Cook/Moore Bedazzled on video (not DVD) the same week the new one hits theaters. Maybe, if for no other reason, we do need re-makes after all. But I really wish they would stop.

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