on Monday, April 4, 2011

The high concept of Bedazzled gives us Elizabeth Hurley as the devil (Peter Cook played him in the original), who gives Fraser's ├╝ber-nerd Elliot seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Hurley makes a surprisingly believable Satan. Up close, her angular features and hollow gaze make her as frightening as she is gorgeous, not to mention the annoying bouncy walk that makes you dizzy to watch and a wardrobe change factor that clocks in at once every six minutes.

Elliot dreams up every wish he can think of to try to make his office crush Allison (Frances O'Connor) fall for him. Soon he's a Columbian drug lord, then a basketball star, then an effete socialite. But naturally, that darned devil somehow makes it all go wrong! Elliot needs to watch more episodes of Bewitched! to learn the dangers of wishing improperly.

As each wish turns out worse than the last, we are offered the chance to laugh at the wacky antics on display before us. Look, Elliot can suddenly speak Spanish! Look, Elliot suddenly speaks like a moron! Look, Elliot is suddenly very smart! Of course, you may choose not to laugh at many of these scenes if you wish. I know I didn't.

Bedazzled drags its one-joke scenes through far too many poorly-timed comic moments, with each of its hokey-jokey sequences going on for far longer than is humanly funny (notably one scene about Elliot having been given a small willy becomes truly painful). Of course, I guess this is unavoidable if you're simply trying to pad out 90 minutes of screen time with something.

To try and spice things up, director Harold Ramis inserts the supporting cast of Elliot's co-workers into each vignette, where they reappear as new characters. Wow, inventive! Then there are numerous and utterly bizarre "comedy" moments, complete non-sequiturs to the film, which are used as interludes between each "wish" sequence. Mostly this consists of Hurley's devil causing traffic accidents, etc. You know, just for kicks.

And what's with Frances O'Connor as the romantic lead? O'Connor, best known (okay, solely known) for starring in the recent Mansfield Park, with her jutting forehead and wallflower stage presence, makes for a love interest about as exciting as a wet brick. Jeez, why not have Hurley and Fraser get it on? I guess we'd bust through PG-13 with something like that.

Aside from a few juvenile giggles, there's not much in Bedazzled worth mentioning. The movie is so limp it is all but forgotten on the ride home.

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