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Bedazzled (2000)

Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is a loser, baby — he gets no respect from his employers, his co-workers hate him, and the obscure object of his affection, fellow corporate drone Allison (Frances O'Connor), barely knows he's alive. But as Elliot makes a game attempt one evening to drown his sorrows in a beer, he meets a gorgeous woman (Elizabeth Hurley) with a tempting offer — sign over his soul for seven wishes. Elliot (perhaps the most desperate man on earth) accepts the deal, immediately wishing to be "powerful" and married to the winsome Allison, but the devil is in the details — his gorgeous temptress is none other than Satan herself, and there is no way Elliot can make a wish specific enough to prevent his seductive adversary from turning the tables. "Powerful" and "married to Allison" results in Elliot becoming a harried Colombian drug lord, while his wife is having an affair with her English instructor, and further fantasies — becoming an empathic boyfriend, an NBA star, a sophisticated novelist — have equally muddled results. Bedazzled, a 2000 re-make of Stanley Donen's popular 1967 film starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, is a generally entertaining turn from director Harold Ramis (Analyze This, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack), despite a few drawbacks. While the many fantasy vignettes contain "twist" surprises in them, the main story arc is fairly predictable, and bland. Certainly, Hurley is a sumptuous treat in her many red outfits, but nobody has ever accused her of being a gifted comedienne; her Devil is a boisterous vamp, not the subtle charmer we should expect. Frances O'Connor is not nearly as fetching as Hurley, and the character of Allison lacks the wit or allure that Elliot apparently sees. Where Bedazzled succeeds is Fraser's multi-role wish-fulfillment fantasies, which are uniformly energetic and clever. Fraser has ventured into several genres (the dramatic Gods and Monsters, the action-adventure The Mummy), but he's done particularly well in comedies, often rising far above the material, such as in Blast from the Past (and only the presence of Fraser and Eric Idle saved Dudley Do-Right from being a complete disaster). At this point Fraser has yet to find a comedy that does his talents justice — until then, Bedazzled is yet another sign of great promise. Good supporting turns from Orlando Jones, Miriam Shor, and Paul Adelstein as Elliot's co-workers, who turn up as various characters in his wish-fulfillment adventures, and a cameo from Ramis-regular Brian Doyle-Murray. Fox's DVD release of Bedazzled offers a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Includes a commentary track from Ramis, a second commentary from Hurley and producer Trevor Albert, a featurette hosted by Hurley, a look at the costume designs, and an outtake reel, including a hilarious extended improv from Jones and Adelstein as two NBA broadcasters. Keep-case.
—JJB



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