Click here 3 stars

Brendan Fraser Hellbound
for humor

Making an ancient deal
for modern laughs
"Bedazzled"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)

Making a deal with the devil has become almost commonplace these days. I mean, how else can you explain N'Sync?

Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is the guy at work that causes you to reverse direction, exclaiming "Oh my God! It's HIM!!!" every time you see him. Socially awkward doesn't even begin to describe him; if there's a way of rubbing you the wrong way, Elliot is probably already doing it, perfectly unaware that he's driving you crazy. In short, a real nebbish.

Frances O'ConnorHis co-workers at the high-tech company in San Francisco where he works include the lovely but unattainable Allison (Frances O'Connor), for whom Elliot pines. However, his every attempt (few and far between though they are) to talk to his dream girl ends in defeat.

Elizabeth HurleyEnter the devil, who in this case is a lucious, lurid wench played with more than a bit of a twinkle by Liz Hurley. She promises him seven wishes, whatever he wants -- including Allison -- in exchange for his soul. Elliot readily agrees.

Of course, the devil being what she is, the father of lies ...oops, the mother of lies, the wishes go terribly wrong, one at a time. For example, Elliot wishes to be rich, powerful and married to Allison. He gets all that as a Columbian druglord whose wife is cheating on him. You get the picture.

This movie was made once before, in 1967 (and in turn was based on the legend of Dr. Faust), with Dudley Moore in the title role, and writer/director Peter Cook playing the devil. That version has a lot more wit and charm than this one, although Fraser has plenty of both, making the movie way more recommendable. Hurley is absolutely delicious as Beelzebub, not only easy on the eyes but veritably defining the word "naughty." I was surprised I enjoyed her performance as much as I did; I thought she was OK in the first "Austin Powers" movie, but she certainly has the makings of a fine comedienne.

Director Harold Ramis doesn't have the deft touch that Cook does; he tends to use a bludgeon when a matchstick will do. He has a formidable task, making essentially seven mini-movies with a linking device. Fraser pulls off seven completely different characterizations of the same man (with accompanying make-up and wardrobe changes).

As comedies go, "Bedazzled" isn't bad - there are several good laughs to be found here. It isn't as consistent as it could be, but the performances of Fraser and Hurley make up for it. G'head and see it; if you don't like it, well, the devil made you do it.

VIDEO OR THEATER:
This makes better viewing on the small screen.

DVD at Amazon.com.
VHS at Amazon.com.

See cast, credit and other details about "Bedazzled" at Internet Movie Data Base.