Directed by Harold Ramis
Review by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Satan sure gets a lot of screentime. Recently, he has been played in human form by Michael York, Gabriel Byrne, and just last week nearly took the body of Ben Chaplin. Fine actors, certainly, if not very good films. I think that if the devil existed, he would have the good taste (as Mick Jagger would also suspect) to find the most attractive shell to don while wreaking havoc on humanity. Chaplin was a good start, but Elizabeth Hurley is just about perfect.
The victim of the dark prince(ss) in Bedazzled is Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser), a nerdy tech support representative for Synedyne Computers. He is utterly pathetic, but his grating attempts at socializing have left him hated by his coworkers, and ignored by everybody else. This ignorance is most painful in the case of Alison Gardner (Frances O'Connor), a coworker that Elliot is obsessed with, but doesn't have the nerve to even talk to.
After one embarrassing attempt at a bar, Elliot is greeted by a gorgeous woman (Hurley) in a slinky red dress. She claims that she can get him what he wants if he were to sign a contract. Of course, she is the devil and the contract is for Elliot's eternal soul. She grants him seven wishes, and Elliot falls for it. He gets what he wishes for, but a little more than he bargained for.
Many, many films have been built around a similar plot, which itself is the stuff of ancient poems. This film is based on a 1967 British film of the same title, written by and starring Peter Cook (as the devilish George Spiggott) and Dudley Moore (as the Faustian Stanley Moon). Not only does Bedazzled have to live up to revered operas, but a cult classic, as well. It's a difficult task, and director Harold Ramis (Analyze This) is brave to take it on.
The casting of Hurley, as I said, is quite good (especially since her recent snubbing of the striking actors' unions), and Fraser is just as well fitted. Alas, a comedy cannot ride on its casting alone. The screenplay is the thing, and the one produced by Ramis with Larry Gelbart and Peter Tolan is pleasant enough, but unsatisfying. Finding laughs in this tired story proves to be quite difficult, and there is less outright laughing in the theatre than light chuckling.
Will this year ever see a great comedy like Being John Malkovich? It doesn't make much difference to the Academy, but what will get the Golden Globe nominations? Well, I guess it's not a pressing issue for most people, but dammit, I wanna laugh! Where do I sign?
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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan