I really, really loved this movie. Oh, sure, it’s not “Touch of Evil” or anything, but man do you come out of the theater with a huge smile on your face, a numb feeling in the jaw and even warm fuzzy butterflies in your heart. Yup, Harold Ramis did it again. The man who gave us “Ghostbusters”, “Analyze This” as well as what may be the most consistently funny and smart movie of the ’90s, “Groundhog Day”. His latest doesn’t quite have the depth and originality of that one, but it’s still miles ahead of most comedies put out these days and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year. After the hardly funny dread of “Meet The Parents” it’s a huge relief to watch a movie that doesn’t feel the need to be mean to be funny. Brendan Fraser’s nice guy character is as much (if not more) of a loser than Ben Stiller’s nice guy in “Meet the Parents”, but the movie ain’t all about mocking and humiliating him.
Fraser stars as Elliot Richards, a poor guy with a job that has him stuck all day in a cubicle with a headset giving computer technical support, a desperate crush on a co-worker (Frances O’Connor) who doesn’t even knows he exists and no friends. Shoot, the guy really deserves a break… And a break he shall get, right from the hands of a mysterious and totally hot babe (Elizabeth Hurley) who just happens to be… THE DEVIL, thum thum thump! For the ownership of his soul for all eternity, she will grant him seven wishes. Pretty good deal, or so he thinks…
Alrighty then, this sounds like a SNL skit brought to feature length. A high concept comedy. An excuse to link together a bunch of wacky vignettes which give the opportunity to Brendan Fraser to play all kinds of colorful characters. In a way, “Bedazzled” is all of that. But thanks to said versatile performance by Fraser, an inventive script and dynamic direction from Ramis, the movie succeeds in avoiding clichés and contrivance. And in any case, what’s there not to like? Right from the opening credits (sped up images of crowds freeze framing to point out character traits of individuals) up to the surprisingly not-that-obvious happy ending, the movie is pure joy. Elizabeth Hurley is sizzling as the evil ringmaster of it all, wearing countless hella sexy outfits, going through all her dialogue with sass and that delicious English accent.
And then Brendan Fraser… He’s just awesome. I’ve been a big fan of his since forever. There’s just something about him, an offbeat coolness, a clueless but oh so charming quality to him that’s just irresistible. Fraser was the best thing in many not that good little comedies, like “Encino Man”, “Blast From The Past” and “George Of The Jungle”, he proved to have dramatic skills in “Gods & Monsters”, and he also did a damn good job as an Indiana Jones type action hero in “The Mummy”, but I think this is the movie that shows the most clearly what a wonderful performer he truly is. The leitmotiv of the film is that Elliot makes a wish that sounds good to him, being rich and powerful for example, and the Devil in Miss Hurley keeps screwing things over for him, twisting his wishes against him. Like in that first wish, Elliot finds himself in the shoes of a tanned, mustached playboy living in a huge mansion and having a blast hearing himself talk Spanish… until he realizes that he has been turned into a Colombian drug lord! So basically, we get to see Fraser having fun playing that dude, or the most sensible man in the world, a freakishly tall basketball player and so on… “Bedazzled” is a whole lotta fun, and then some. There are a lot of strong, serious Oscar contenders out this day, and a lot of them are well worth seeing, but in the midst of it all, take the time to see this one too. It won’t make any critic’s year-end top ten, but it’s still sure to entertain you silly.