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SYNOPSIS: Nerdy techno-geek Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is hardly the most popular guy in San Francisco. Still, even though his workmates go out of their way to avoid him, he remains eternally optimistic. He’s optimistic too about the prospects of a relationship with the beautiful Alison (Frances O’Connor) despite having spoken to her only once in four years. When another attempt to talk to her in a bar ends in disaster, Elliot has an encounter with the Devil herself (Elizabeth Hurley). She makes him an offer he can’t refuse – seven wishes to use however he sees fit. The trouble is, he has to give up his soul in return. Elliot sees the chance to end his mundane existence and have the love of the girl he desires. But you don’t make a bargain with Lucifer without expecting a little double-dealing, do you? 

Review by David Edwards:
Bedazzled sees director Harold Ramis and cast taking on a remake of a little-known 1967 project of the same name that featured Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. On the whole, the experiment is a qualified success; thanks largely to the film’s good-natured take on the Faustian boilerplate. The film is no more than a light-hearted romp, but wisely it doesn’t set out to be anything else. Ramis makes it clear from the outset that this isn’t going to be any heavy contemplation on morality or the nature of the soul. This is comedy, goddammit, so sit back and enjoy the ride. And it is quite a ride, with the screenwriting team led by Ramis and veteran Larry Gelbart (of Tootsie fame) coming up with ever more duplicitous ways for the curvaceous Devil to dupe poor Elliot.

Its major problem is that it’s very much built on a one-joke premise; and once that premise has been worked over a few times, there’s virtually nowhere for the film to go. The ending too is something of a disappointment, particularly considering what’s gone before it. While it does fit, in a way, with the set-ups which precede it, I couldn’t help feeling it was deflating and a bit of a cop-out. 

Still, there’s plenty to like in this film – most of it coming from the versatile Brendan Fraser. Although it sounds a little odd, this is a role which really allows Fraser to display his range. He does so to great effect, and also displays a fine sense of comic timing. Even his Spanish is excellent. For those who see Liz Hurley as the ultimate object of desire, the film offers plenty of footage for your gratification. From cheerleader outfits to police uniforms, she waltzes almost nonchalantly through the film in an array of revealing outfits (about which, more is revealed in a special featurette on the DVD). Our own Frances O’Connor matches Fraser’s lead with a fine supporting turn as Alison.

The DVD features the option of either director’s or actors’ audio commentary with the feature. There’s also a couple of deleted scenes, and while some commentary here might have been helpful, it’s pretty clear when you see them why they were deleted (!). There’s an HBO special about the making of the film, narrated by Ms Hurley, which doesn’t really add very much once you’ve seen the feature itself. But real film buffs will want to check out the “behind-the-scenes” featurettes on the film’s costume design and score; two often-neglected aspects of filmmaking. Bedazzled is a likeable, largely inoffensive film (depending on your views about Satan, I guess). It doesn’t go anywhere we haven’t been before, but it’s nonetheless an engaging hour-and-a-half’s entertainment. Of course, the DVD features add significantly to the disc’s overall running time; but not all of these are particularly noteworthy. If you’re a Fraser or Hurley fan, you’ve probably already pencilled in the release date. If not, this is still an interesting little DVD – just don’t take it seriously.

Published April 4, 2002

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CAST: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor

DIRECTOR: Harold Ramis

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director’s commentary, actors’ commentary, HBO featurette “The making of Bedazzled”, deleted scenes, costume designs featurette “Bedazzling Designs”, behind the scenes at the scoring session, movie trailer, TV spots, stills gallery

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 27, 2002

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