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Movie Review

Bedazzled

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor, language and some drug content

Reviewed by: Curtis D. Smith
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
_____
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
_____
Relevant issues
Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser in “Bedazzled”
Do you think there is a Hell?

A US News and World Report poll reported that 35% do not believe in a hell. The US News January 31, 2000 cover story says “fire and brimstone” is “out of fashion, modern thinking says the netherworld isn’t so hot after all.” Is there an actual place called Hell? Go

Featuring: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor, Orlando Jones, Lou Ferrigno
Director: Harold Ramis
Producer: Harold Ramis, Trevor Albert
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Just a week before the release of “Bedazzled”, Hollywood churned out yet another lame film about the devil when “Lost Souls” hit theaters. And just one week before that, it cranked out a dismal remake of a bygone film called “Get Carter.”

Based on the outcome of these dreadful efforts one would think that a remake combined with a story about the devil would go straight to video purgatory, but “Bedazzled” manages to succeed on the big screen with a certain amount of panache.

Drawing from the 1967 prototype that starred Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Raquel Welch, “Bedazzled” breathes life into the droll yet trite story line with simplistic ease because the devil, as it were, is in the film’s details rather than in its overall concept.

Brendan Fraser in “Bedazzled”

Seven wishes for the price of a soul is the upshot of “Bedazzled” and Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) knows exactly what he wants in trade for it: the affection of a beautiful coworker named Alison Gardner (Frances O’Connor). The only thing that stands in her way is his irritating personality, he thinks, so when the devil (Elizabeth Hurley) tempts him with seven, “anything goes” wishes Elliot signs away his soul to become every woman’s dream man.

The only problem is he’s made his pact with the devil and the devil isn’t widely known for honesty and integrity. She grants his wishes alright, but continually adds a malevolent element to each wish that Elliot doesn’t expect, and his resulting angst is typically hilarious. First, she makes him the wealthy and good looking husband to Alison, but he soon learns that he is wealthy because he is a Columbian drug lord and Alison hates him because she is immersed in an affair with her English teacher.

Another scenario casts Elliot as the world’s most sensitive man—a red-headed, freckle-faced wimp who cries at the mere sight of a sunset and can’t stop blithering sappy poems. Alison can’t resist his moodiness initially, but she soon grows sick of his effeminate state and heads for the arms of a misogynistic jerk. And so the routine goes until Elliot finally deciphers Satan’s sadistic game and tries to get himself off the hook.

Curiously, the entertainemt value of each of Elliot’s wishes sort of wanes as they go, as if the filmmakers blew most of their budget on the first two scenes and had to play it safe with the remainder of the film. As the story proceeds the fantasies get more detailed and less innovative due to Elliot’s apparent distrust of the devil.

Fraser actually shows some Jim Carrey-like acting range playing the previously mentioned characters as well as his fairly convincing portrayal as an NBA jock. But Hurley is merely reduced to so much eye candy as she recites junior high-inspired sexual jokes while parading around in scant outfits.

Of course the film’s apex leads us by the nose to the moral lesson everyone knows, but readily ignores, that is, that beauty is only skin deep and we need to accept ourselves for who we are. Ho hum—another moral lesson handed down from Hollywood, and with help from the devil no less. It’s interesting once again to witness Hollywood’s view of Satan. Rather than portrayed as the spooky, sinister nemesis of the creator, he (or in this case, she) is portrayed as a mischievous and playfully attractive British woman who is just trying to do her job. At one point Elliot even feels pity for her thankless plight as the “lord of the underworld” and offers her solace. But his pity is quickly turned against him and he sees once again that the devil is not to be trusted. Hidden in this film are some remarkable (and no doubt inadvertent) truths about the nature of Satan. Over and over we witness deception, lies, unfulfilled promises of satisfaction and arrogance on the part of Hurley’s character, the father of lies (John 8:44). Rather than try to scare us with trite satanic manifestations the makers of Bedazzled have focused on the devil’s would-be personality in search of laughs.

Still, like the film’s promo clip asserts, the entertainment value is solid and the laughs are fairly frequent, especially at the beginning. Which brings up an interesting question. Why are there no awards for the people who make bad movies look great with movie trailers? Based on its trailer, “Lost Souls” looked like a winner, as have many other films this year, but most have been junk. And let’s not forget those promos that can proficiently sum up an entire film in 28 seconds.

The Academy should hereby create two new Oscar Awards categories: “The Blue Screen Awards” (for actors who do a terrific job performing in front of those blue special effects screens like Liam Neeson in “Star Wars: Episode I”) and “The Promo Trailer Awards.”

This is all a roundabout way of saying “Bedazzled” doesn’t get much better than its promotional trailer—which is not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s just put it this way: Don’t spend $8 on it, OK?


Viewer Comments
I found this movie to be pretty hilarious. I love Brenden Fraser so that was the initial draw to the movie. I was a little unsure about the subject matter at first. By the end, I was shocked at how much truth there was to this movie’s portrayal of Satan. Satan is beautiful and extremely attractive (appearance varies per individual of course). He isn’t going to be the ugly scary villian that he is so often shown to be. How attractive would that be? There were a lot of lines in the movie that stated truths about God and Satan. (I won’t mention them, to avoid spoiling any funnies). I thought it was a great movie, I plan on buying it. Caution to people with lustful problems, the devil is always dressed very immodestly and there are a lot of sexual jokes. Besides that, the language is fairly minimal and I don’t remember anything else offensive. My Ratings: [3/3]
—Jessi, age 23
I went into this thinking that there would be some “Oh God” (the movie)-type drivel, but Bedazzled was excellent entertainment. Why else do we see movies, right? My favorite scene which I’m sure was missed by some was when God and the devil were playing chess. I have always envisioned that this as how the Battle for Evermore really is played out. “A friend” (his first real friend of the movie) was obviously God as an African-American man, much as the devil was a Caucasian woman. The dialogue was brilliant, profound (for a PG-13 rating), and very funny. The devil is fleshed out as being a cheater and deceiver (what’s new?) and our “hero” completes a character arc that allows us to see the moral of the story. It is an intelligent depiction of the problems of befriending Satan. Go see it! My Ratings: [3½/3½]
—Michael, age 30
Going into this film, I was not expecting great Christian truths to be manifested, this IS a Hollywood production. I was mildly surprised at how well Satan was portrayed in the movie though. We are told he is an angel of light by the scriptures and, let’s face it, no one would really be tempted by a horned and tailed, pitch-fork carrying devil. He appeals to what would please each of us. He (in this case she) was just what Fraser’s character wanted to see and Hollywood actually showed his true nature—he promises everything, delivers only enough to keep you hooked, and is full of deceitfulness. Aside from the mild profanity (that actually fit the story and wasn’t forced to change the rating of the film) the only offensive thing from a Christian perspective, was how Satan was “defeated”. Only Jesus can break our contract(s) with Satan and we must remember, Satan has each of us “under contract” until we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. If you approach the movie only to be entertained and not look for deep spiritual truths, most people will enjoy it. My Ratings: [3/3]
—William, age 35
This movie was pretty stupid. All of the other movies I wanted to see were sold out, and I live ½ hour from the theater, so I decided to risk it. Bad move. I do not see the devil as a thin, beautiful woman in a cheerleading uniform, and it is sad to think that anyone would find it entertaining. Besides the language and the sexual humor that has been overdone since the motion picture industry came into being, the acting wasn’t that great at all. If it wasn’t for the athletic content, it would have been a complete waste of money. Good thing my boyfriend paid for the tickets because I would not have chosen to spend my money on it! My Ratings: [2/2½]
—Beulah Copina, age 23
The site’s review hits it on the head. The movie’s first three wishes are slightly amusing, but then it just goes through the motions. The devil promises and doesn’t deliver the goods, and this is a fair description of his true nature. But the script did towards the end try to conjure sympathy for the Devil. God had one of his angels(?) talk some reality into Brendan Fraser (Elliot) but of course he was smoking, swearing, and talking how God is a supreme being (which means God is more of a universal “warm fuzzy” god created from a mix of religions—check out the Buddhist Monk at the end of the movie) Certainly this movie isn’t going to teach any Sunday School lessons, but I can see how some clips could be used to teach some basics about the Devil (althouh Hurley was looking a little too sexy for most churches to show any footage). There was a smattering of sexual innuendo to boot. So that’s the morality of the movie, but what about the entertaining parts. If you laughed at the trailer—then that’s about all the parts you probably will laugh at in the movie. I did. My Ratings: [3/2½]
—Tom Young, age 32