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'Bedazzled': The Devil You Know

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 20, 2000

   


    'Bedazzled' Elizabeth Hurley bewitches Brendan Fraser in "Bedazzled."
(Francois Duhamel/20th Century Fox)
Meet Miss Mephistopheles: The Devil has never looked as hot as she does in "Bedazzled," a Beelzebubbly but uneven Faustian farce possessed by Elizabeth Hurley's mischievous dominatrix.

Gone are the clunky cloven hoofs, the pitchforks and other Gothic accouterments. Here, it's a Princess of Darkness who rules the underworld in stiletto pumps and runway fashions, carries a cellphone and maintains offices in Hell, Purgatory and Los Angeles.

Despite all the modern trappings, Satan herself is up to the same old tricks: trolling for souls and creating mischief. And Elliot Richards (lovably dopey Brendan Fraser), a bumbling computer tech-support nerd, makes the perfect target for her naughty temptations: No matter how hard he tries, Elliot can't seem to befriend his smug colleagues or win the notice of fetching co-worker Alison Gardner (Frances O'Connor).

One night at a singles bar, Her Unholiness makes the recently rebuffed Elliot an offer he can't refuse: seven wishes in exchange for his immortal soul. Alas, Elliot signs the contract without reading the small print and in short order discovers that the Devil is in the details.

To begin with, he asks to be rich, powerful and married to Alison. He wakes up the next morning to find himself magically transformed into a darkly handsome Colombian drug lord who is indeed married to Alison, but she runs off with her English teacher. Later the cuckold barely escapes death at the hands of his own henchmen.

In subsequent wishes he attempts to be more specific, but in every case the Devil is way ahead of him. With one wish to go, Elliot has finally learned several lessons: Be careful what you wish for, don't trust leggy she-Devils, and if you're thinking about trading your soul, think again.

"Bedazzled," inspired by the 1967 movie with Dudley Moore, ladles on the sticky homilies – don't take candy from strangers, money can't buy love, fame isn't what it's cracked up to be, be true to yourself, and so on – which tells you there's nothing new here. The flick has an episodic structure, and many of the realized dreams are comically sharp and even hilarious in execution. But between those sequences, "Bedazzled" is a mite sluggish, and we find ourselves yearning for Elliot's next preposterous wish-transformation.

Fraser flexes his comic muscularity in a variety of guises – a dim basketball superstar and an ill-fated American president among them – and Hurley shows she's more than a perfume spokeswoman with this portrait of Old Scratch 'n' Sniff. Mmmm, the smell of fire and brimstone – just right for all occasions.

"Bedazzled" (93 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for sexual innuendo.

 

Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


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