Bedazzled

A remake of the beloved 1967 Peter Cook-Dudley Moore vehicle of the same name, Bedazzled is even more crushingly unnecessary than you might expect. The film stars Brendan Fraser as a pathetic sad-sack with a crush on a pretty coworker (a bland Frances O'Connor) and a circle of acquaintances who barely hide their disdain. That all changes, however, when Satan arrives in the form of vampy Elizabeth Hurley, offering to grant Fraser seven wishes in return for his soul. The wishes then function as a series of loosely related skits, each casting Fraser as a different outsized character in a different cartoonish scenario. Bedazzled co-writer and director Harold Ramis has written or directed some of the best mainstream comedies of the past 25 years (Groundhog Day, Analyze This, Animal House, Back To School), but his comic instincts fail him in a film riddled with bad ideas and glaring miscalculations, beginning with casting Fraser as an abrasive dork and then forcing him to engage in ridiculously broad, Jim Carrey-style physical comedy. A gifted comic actor, Fraser is not the sort of larger-than-life presence who can make a weak comedy work through the force of his personality. He's out of his element here, looking desperate playing one-note wacky characters who wouldn't pass muster during SNL's many, many lean years. Even worse, Ramis seems to have forgotten just how braying and obnoxious Fraser is during early scenes: About halfway in, the glasses come off and he's suddenly and inexplicably transformed into a typically handsome, likable Fraser doofus. The casting of Hurley as the devil is similarly bewildering: She made a fine straight woman in Austin Powers but adds almost nothing to Bedazzled, and her array of revealing outfits seem designed to distract the audience from a painful lack of inspiration. Beelzebub has been a ubiquitous presence in bad movies lately (Bless The Child, Lost Souls, Stigmata, End Of Days), and Bedazzled only continues the devil's cinematic losing streak.

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