Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is a bit of a dork. Well, a lot of a dork really, and not a particularly nice one at that. He's one of those guys who thinks he's popular when he's not, and people cross the street to avoid him. But he's also madly and obsessively in love with work colleague Alyson (Frances O'Connor) who doesn't even know he exists. Into his life one evening comes a beautiful woman (Liz Hurley) who offers him the chance to be with Alyson, and in fact, have whatever he wants. There's a catch, of course. She's really the Devil, and in order to get all his desires he'll have to sign away his soul. As he hates his life so much anyway it doesn't seem like a problem, so he signs on the line and gets his seven wishes. The trouble is, dealing with the Devil isn't going to be that simple. Each wish backfires; as when he wishes to be rich and powerful he becomes a hunted South American drug lord, when he wants to be deep and intellectual he turns out to be gay, and so on. With each wish going wrong, Elliot is running out of them and is no nearer to the girl of his dreams.
Way back in 1967, the original Bedazzled was a small scale comedy starring Pete Cook and Dudley Moore, which in itself was based on the Faust story. Hollywood's current propensity for saving money on scripts by remaking old movies means that we now get this much bigger budget but much more hollow affair. Replacing Dudley Moore, Brendan Fraser shows us that he is one of the more natural comic actors around at the moment. The part calls for him to adopt many very different characters, and he pulls this off very well, even given the lightweight nature of the material. And then we have Liz Hurley as the Devil. Once upon a time - a fair while ago - Liz was regarded as one of our best new actresses (yes, it does seem hard to believe). Then she moved to Hollywood, became more famous for being Hugh Grant's girlfriend, and it all went terribly wrong. She doesn't really even bother to try acting these days. This movie mainly calls for her to look hot, and that she does with ease, though she can't act hot - note to Liz, see Liv Tyler's performance in One Night at McCool's as a guide.
The story is sporadically amusing, being as it is a collection of comedy sketches with each wish. These probably start with the funniest, where Elliot is the drug baron, and get progressively less funny, leading to a rather flat ending, as if the writers had just not got a good idea how to wind things up. The odd in-joke, like the fact that the Devil drives a Lamborghini Diablo, have to be verbally announced to us, which is somewhat patronizing to the viewer. This isn't on par with the best of director Harold Ramis' other work, like Groundhog Day and Analyze This and ultimately when the top reason for watching a movie is to see Liz Hurley in a selection of skimpy outfits, then it hasn't succeeded. Brendan Fraser will hopefully go on to do better comedies than this one, Liz Hurley will hopefully go on to produce better films than this one.
This is a decent transfer of a movie that features lots of bold primary colours, red obviously playing a big part. It's not perfect, but is certainly good enough for this movie.
Comedies don't normally feature big sound, but as this one has plenty of action in it, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is quite agressive at times. The Columbian drug lord sequence in particular, demonstrates the quality of the soundtrack.
This title has been available in region 2 for some time - but only in featureless rental format. Finally we have a retail version, and it's pretty much the same as the region 1 title, give or take a few minor changes, but more of that later. The extras include:
The 15 minute HBO: Making of Bedazzled featurette has a bit of a twist in that it is hijacked by Liz Hurley who makes fun of the featurette genre - actors who say wonderful things about the director so they'll be considered for his next feature, for example. This raises it above the standard featurettes that this is lampooning, but only slightly. Hang on for the out-takes at the end.
There are two commentaries, the first being a commentary by Liz Hurley and producer Trevor Albert. As Ms. Hurley has done a bit of producing herself, she is fairly well qualified to talk about the film making process. Albert's input is mostly technical production info. The second is a commentary by director Harold Ramis, who can be interesting, but at times resorts to just recalling and repeating the movie dialogue.
There are two deleted scenes. The Extended basketball scene is exactly what it says, more of the two commentators droning on interminably. I guess you have to be American and / or a lover of American sports TV to enjoy this: personally I didn't make it to the end. The other deleted scene is the infamous Rock star fantasy sequence. The region 1 version of the disc buried this away as a hidden feature, primarily to keep the disc as a PG-13. However, the UK version raises the rating from the original "12" to "15" and puts it into the main menu. As for the scene itself, it's one of Elliott's wishes that involves him being a drugged up heavy rock star, and Alyson his equally wasted girlfriend. It's not that it's a bad scene, it's just that its "nasty" feel would just not have sat with the rest of the much more lighthearted film.
Bedazzling designs with Deena Appel spends five minutes with costume designer Appel talking about the wardrobe challenges for the movie. The key element was to ensure that each wish sequence looked distinctly different, so the costume design for Brendan Fraser and Frances O'Connor had to reflect this.
The Scoring Session lets us see the orchestra as they play the music for the soundtrack for two scenes in the movie - the movie is shown in a window to see how it fits. This was split into two separate items for the region 1 disc, but given that in total it's under two and a half minutes in total it has been more sensibly made into one here.
There are a number of trailers and TV spots which are all intact from the region 1 version with the exception of a plug for the soundtrack.
Finally, there is an extensive Stills Gallery which feature photographic stills, artwork and storyboard designs from a number of different elements of the film.
The key thing missing from this region 2 version over region 1 is that it featured Nuon Enhanced features. As this will disappoint only the two people in the country with a Nuon enhanced player, it isn't much of a loss. (Apologies to both Nuon owners).
An occassionally amusing but ultimately shallow remake of a small British movie, it proves that Brendan Fraser can do comedy, and re-affirms all we know about Liz Hurley. After a long period in rental hell it finally gets a full retail release pretty much on par with its region 1 counterpart. Passes the time, but not much more.