Pop Culture Princess

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Bad Movie Month says goodbye for now after being Bedazzled

The final entry in our Bad Movie Month series of The Devil Made Me Do It themed films is a comedy remake of the 1967 British satire Bedazzled, which starred Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

The American edition from 2000 has Brendan Fraser in the Dudley Moore role as Elliot Richards, an annoyingly nerdy guy in a tech support job where no one likes him and most of his free time is spent in dreaming about Alison(Frances O'Connor),an upper level employee who has no idea that he exists.

One particularly bad evening(when Elliot's attempt to hook up with Alison is shot down), he meets a mystery woman who promises to change his life forever and oh,by the way, she's the Devil. Elizabeth Hurley plays a very sexy Satan and offer our boy seven wishes that can get him the girl of his dreams for the "piddling" price of his immortal soul.

Part of the problem with this movie is buying Brendan Fraser as a meek and mild kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, he's a decent actor when the material calls for it but not capable of being truly convincing as a wimp. Hurley, on the other hand, does her level best as the playful "princess of darkness" and in a lot of her scenes with Fraser,appears to be doing most of the heavy lifting:

Elliot signs up for the seven wishes deal and in the grand tradition of deals with the devil, all of them wind up cheating him out of his true desire.

He wishes to be rich and powerful with Alison as his wife but Lady Satan makes him a drug dealer about to be wiped out by a rival, then he wants to be the most emotionally sensitive man(a stereotype that hasn't been relevant since the seventies) but that drives Alison to the arms of a sand kicking bully and at one point,he wants to be the President of the United States and guess what,he's Lincoln at Ford's theater! You get the point and it's pretty dull after awhile.

Most of the wish sequences involved goofy make-up and costume changes,along with recasting Elliot's co-workers as servile attendants and/or hindrances to his new life with Alison making her enforced appearances as well. The punchlines are obvious even to an Amish grade school student with Elliot marveling at his new found language skills or shocked at the shortcomings of his basketball superstar status:

The real crux of this cruddy comedy is how watered down it is from the original film. A good reason for that is the lack of true chemistry between Hurley and Fraser,which is more of the fault of the director/screenwriter/producer Harold Ramis,in my opinion.

 The first Bedazzled was a collaboration between Moore and Cook,who were a well established comedy duo at the time, much like Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French or Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.(look up some of their clips online and you'll see what I mean)

Teams like that know how to play to the strength of their partner and how to set up a perfectly timed rhythm of performance that seems perfectly natural. While making the devil a woman was a nice touch here, she and Fraser are more like a couple on a blind date trying to make the best of things since they can't get out of the set up than a pair of well honed professionals at work.

A much more serious problem is the lack of sharpness in the satire. While Elliot does manage to get out of his ill fated bargain,as did Moore's character in the original,instead of that being granted as a benign favor of the devil(which backfires on Satan later on),it turns into a mini life lesson that he had to learn.

That then morphs into such a feel-good ending where Elliot finds his true love in a different guise and Ms. Satan became "the best friend" he ever had. This is so wishy-washy that even Charlie Brown would be nauseated.

The whole point of the first Bedazzled was to mock the notions of good and evil,with a few pointed jabs at the hypocrisy of socially acceptable moral standards. If you don't have the guts to stay at the satire stove and face the heat, you shouldn't step into Hell's humor kitchen in the first place:

Thanks to everyone who tuned into Bad Movie Month this year and if you have any suggestions for the theme for 2014, please place them in the comments section below. Have a Happy Labor Day,folks and do something fun, just for the hell of it:


Thaddeus said...

Nicely done! Yeah, this movie had no bite to it, which any film about soul-selling should have. Considering that it's so light and flimsy, it's a wonder that they went with this story for Brendan Frasier. It's almost as if studios were so impressed by The Mummy's box office, they decided to test him out in a comedy for the middle-teen-to-dumb-adult segment.

Or that they could do decent box office on Liz Hurley's looks alone.

I really want the people responsible for all this remake-it is to be stopped. I don't even get worked up about "ruining" the original efforts, just that it's cheap marketing that seldom has much artistic merit.

lady t said...

Thanks,Thaddeus and I appreciate your input here(and not just for Bad Movie Month). Yeah, the remake thing is really just lazy film making.

Hurley does have some decent comic timing but I agree that her casting was more due to her looks than talent-maybe someone even thought "Hey, she's British and it was a British movie in the first place,so..." A cheap way to class up a cheap remake,in my opinion.

Thaddeus said...

My pleasure! Us fellow bloggers and New Yorkers gotta stick together, right?

It's true that Hurley can do good work - and I'm pretty sure it's not me finding her attractive that influences that opinion - but this is a cheap use of her talents. For a picture that's so weak and slight, I really have to ask what the studio/casting director were thinking.

PS, "remake-itis" is my special term for the annoying Hollywood trend, but my auto-correct keeps changing it into three words. Technology, sigh...