Bedazzled

on October 20, 2000 by L. J. Strom
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This is not your father's "Bedazzled." This is Harold Ramis' "Bedazzled." And Ramis, one of the force behind biting, attitude-driven comedies like "Animal House" and "Ghostbusters," is showing some serious mellowing these days. His "Bedazzled" may be a fairly feisty viper, but by the end, one can't help feeling that the serpent has been de-fanged.

This frisky fable is, in fact, a remake of the gloriously droll 1967 film written and performed by the legendary British comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who were, in turn, putting their own moddish spin on the Faust story. In Ramis' version, Faust turns up as Elliot, a tech support nerd played by a convincingly geeky Brendan Fraser. So desperate is Elliot to win the heart of his co-worker Allison (Frances O'Connor) that he's an easy mark when the Devil, a sultry but lightweight Elizabeth Hurley, proposes a deal: If Elliot will sign over his soul, she will grant him seven wishes, each an opportunity to find love with Allison. The only catch, as Elliot soon learns, is that the Devil adheres religiously to Murphy's Law--whatever can go wrong with each wish-fulfillment scenario does.

The movie provides many genuine laughs, particularly when Elliot's desire to be rich and powerful lands him the life of a Colombian drug lord. The chemistry between Fraser and Hurley isn't magical, but the film's breezy pacing and game vivacity more than compensate. The script, however, slides from razor-sharp at the outset to soft at the finale and lifts its saccharine solution to Elliot's spiritual dilemma straight out of a Disney movie. In the original, Cook and Moore made a surprisingly affecting--even wistful--point about self-acceptance without abandoning their acid wit to do so. This "Bedazzled" is an enjoyable romp, but Hollywood clearly owns its soul. Starring Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O'Connor. Directed by Harold Ramis. Written by Larry Gelbart and Harold Ramis & Peter Tolan. Produced by Trevor Albert and Harold Ramis. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, language and drug content. Running time: 93 min

Tags: Starring Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O'Connor. Directed by Harold Ramis. Written by Larry Gelbart and Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan. Produced by Trevor Albert, Harold Ramis, Fox, Comedy
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