Runtime: 1 Hour
and 33 Minutes
This movie reminded me of an episode of the "Simpsons".
Perhaps you will remember it too. Homer was watching a Garrison Keillor
on a pledge drive for PBS. The people in the studio audience are laughing.
Then it cuts to Homer pounding on the top of the television set and
shouting "Be more funny". As I watched "Bedazzled",
there were moments in which I was laughing and enjoying myself, but
there were a lot of moments where I felt like Homer. I didn't want
brilliance. I didn't want blistering social commentary. All I wanted
was for the movie to "be more funny".
"Bedazzled" is the story of a man named Elliot Richards
(played with great effort by Brendan Fraser, no matter what else you
might say, you can't accuse him of not trying). Elliot is an annoying
man who tries too hard to fit in. He tells jokes that aren't all that
funny. He mistakenly uses phrases like "posse" and wants
to high-five all the time. He's one of those guys who wants to be
your best buddy, but is trying way too hard at it. Sort of like Jim
Carrey in "The Cable Guy". Many of us know people like this,
and cringe at the knowledge.
Elliot is in love with a woman who does not even know he exists. He
approaches her one night at a bar and discovers this. Forlornly, he
says that he "would give anything to make her mine".
Enter Satan in a low-cut, red dress and high heels. Satan (played
by Liz Hurley in a performance that begins droll and then turns a
bit too repetitive and doesn't yield any new tricks) offers Elliot
seven wishes in exchange for his soul. "It's like your appendix,
you'll never miss it". Elliot signs the contract and then, no
pun intended, things go straight to Hell.
Each wish involves a complete change in Elliot's life. He wants to
be rich and powerful and he turns out to be a Columbian drug lord.
He wants to be sensitive, he's too sensitive. Each of these wishes
is granted and then backfires. Some of them are ironic. Some of them
(like his wish to be an NBA basketball star) are pretty hilarious.
Some just lie there and die before your very eyes. In this manner
it reminded me of a Saturday Night Live episode. And, like any episode
of Saturday Night Live, its a mixed bag. Some are funny and some are
not. Some are very much not. If I had a watch, chances are I would
have checked it more than once during the course of "Bedazzled".
The part where he is an NBA player has a lot of fun with its premise
and is the high point of the film, having a lot of fun at pro basketball's
expense. But the others aren't all that great, even when they do work.
Yet "Bedazzled" has likable characters and its own gentle
charm. In a comedy, however, gentle isn't always the best thing. I
like my comedies with a bit of a raw edge to them, a smart bite. I
also expect more than this from Harold Ramis, a man who constantly
crafts films that are at the peak of what a comedy can do. Take "Groundhog
Day", "Analyze This" or the underrated and remarkable
"Multiplicity" for example. Not to mention the fact that
he directed "Caddyshack", "National Lampoon's Vacation"
and co-wrote "Ghostbusters",
"Stripes" and "Animal House".
This guy is no slouch, and we expect a little more from him.
All in all, this is not a bad movie, but it leaves one feeling a long
way from "bedazzled".