It's easy to understand why Brendan Fraser wanted to star in "Bedazzled." He gets to play a Colombian drug lord, a half-witted hick version of Dennis Rodman and a whole series of other screwball characters -- all fantasy incarnations of Elliot Richards, a lonely doormat of a tech support geek who sells his soul to the devil.
For four years Elliot (Fraser) has admired from afar a comely co-worker named Alison (Frances O'Connor, "Mansfield Park"). Bumping into her in a bar after work one day, his already diminutive ego is squashed when she doesn't even know who he is. "God, I'd give anything to have that girl in my life," he whimpers under his breath.
God may not have heard him, but the next thing Elliot knows a slinky sexpot Satan (Elizabeth Hurley) in a micro-mini red dress appears and promises him seven wishes for his soul.
"Souls are over-rated," she assures the hesitant Elliot by way of persuasion. "They're like your appendix. They don't really do anything."
Not being the brightest bulb on the porch, after he's roped into a contract with the luscious Lucifer, our hero is pretty vague about his first wish -- to be rich, powerful and married to Alison. Devious little minx that she is, the devil turns him into a cocaine trafficker who is very quickly in the middle of a firefight as his lieutenants try to hijack his empire. What's worse, Alison is his wife all right, but she's cheating on him.
Elliot escapes that wish and in quick succession becomes the most emotionally sensitive man in the world (a sniveling sissy Alison leaves for a hairy-chested bully), then a huge, grunting bruiser of a basketball star (whom the devil has cursed with one significant, um, sexual shortcoming).
Written and directed by Harold Ramis -- whose screenplay resume runs the comedy gamut from "Animal House" to "Analyze This" -- "Bedazzled" is consistently clever in its ability to mine each of Elliot's personas for maximum chuckles. But it's the kind of slapdash gimmick comedy that sinks or swims with the performances of its stars, and Brendan Fraser keeps this remake (the 1968 original starred Dudley Moore) funny enough to leave everyone grinning -- even after the flick tanks in the last five minutes with an insultingly contrived, easy-out ending.
A very good actor and a natural comedian, Fraser is as convincing in his dork credibility (sporting a tucked-in sweater vest and a Members Only jacket) as he is in his fourth fantasy persona -- a handsome, suave, high-society super-genius who seduces Alison only to discover the devil has thrown him yet another curve ball when they get to the bedroom.
Hurley's contribution to the movie isn't as significant, but her particular brand of overacting -- the way she pumps her lips as she speaks and walks hard on her heels to make her breasts bounce as much as possible -- happens to be a perfect fit for her mischievous part as a temptress Beelzebub.
O'Connor doesn't have much to do other than smile sweetly in a succession of bad wigs, one for each of Elliot's wishes. But she fulfills her duties as an approachable dream girl.
All of them are clearly having a great time though, and the sensation is contagious. "Bedazzled" has its flaws, but the laughs keep coming at a steady clip -- and in a slight comedy such as this, that's what matters most.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th October 2000
Box Office USA: $37.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $90.4M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 58
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Elizabeth Hurley as The Devil, Brendan Fraser as Elliot, Frances O'Connor as Alison, Orlando Jones as Daniel/Dan/Danny, Esteban, Beach Jock, Lamar Garrett, Dr. Ngegitigegitibaba, Paul Adelstein as Bob/Roberto/Beach Jock, Toby Huss as Jerry/Alejandro/Beach Jock/Jerry Turner, Gabriel Casseus as Angel, Miriam Shor as Carol/Penthouse Hostess, Brian Doyle-Murray as Priest, Jeff Doucette as Desk Sergeant, Aaron Lustig as Synedyne Supervisor
Also starring: Frances O'Connor