bedazzled

  • Year: 2000
  • Director: Harold Ramis
  • Starring: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’ Connor

In the world of 2016 where basically every movie in history is being remade, it’s easy to write off all remakes as garbage. Did anyone really ask for a remake of Cabin Fever or Memento, movies that came out in the 2000s? That said, if we take a look back to the 1980s with movies like The Thing and The Fly, we have solid proof that remakes can be done well.

So what kind of movie deserves a remake? Obviously not perfect movies, because you’re clearly not going to improve them, and obviously not terrible movies, because there’s nothing redeemable in them. It has to be a movie that either presented interesting ideas but didn’t maximize on its potential, or a movie that was great in its time but wouldn’t be hurt by a modernization. The latter serves as the reason for a Bedazzled remake.

As I said in my review of the original Bedazzled, it’s a hilarious movie, but definitely a movie of its time. It oozes late 60’s in its scenarios while still being timeless in its humor and ideas. Plus, Bedazzled 2000 was directed by Harold Ramis, co-writer of Ghosbusters and co-writer and director of Groundhog Day. This man knew his supernatural comedy.

The Metamucil of acting Brendan Fraser plays Elliot Richards, a hapless loser who no one likes. He tries constantly to be cool and is completely oblivious to the fact that his co-workers hate him. He’s not the pitiable loser Dudley Moore played in the original, but rather the kind that doesn’t exist. Elliot is so obnoxious that it’s hard to feel bad for him. Fraser’s performance is all caricature and no heart at all. Look, it’s a comedy and I understand we’re going for a bit over-the-top, but five minutes in, I wanted to turn this thing off. It’s cringe comedy of the worst kind.

Not surprisingly, Elliot is in love with his beautiful co-worker Alison (Frances O’ Connor) but cannot get up the nerve to talk to her. This is when he meets the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley), who is just as open about her identity as Peter Cook was in the original. Thankfully, she also has a similar sense of humor, although hers is a bit more insulting while Peter Cook’s was more on the dry side. When Elliot says he can’t give away his soul, she mocks “What are you, James Brown?” Once again, the funniest moments come not from the sketches, but from the Devil’s banter.

Elliot agrees to sell his soul for seven wishes, and his first is that he is rich, powerful, and married to Alison.

jeremy
Should have specified “Rich, powerful, married to Alison, not Ron Jeremy.”

Oh no. Comedy from the 2000s, you didn’t. You didn’t just use brownface to make a white actor look Hispanic.

Yes, the Devil turns Elliot into a Colombian drug lord. But, but, they’re going to explain it, right? Elliot will say “You know, that was kind of racist,” and the Devil will reply “Oh how I miss the old days.” But they don’t! It’s just a racist stereotype. This was 2000! Harold Ramis, who told you this was a good idea? A similar wish was made in the original film, but you know what? It wasn’t racist. He was made rich and his wife cheated on him, just like this, but it didn’t use brownface.

If you still care by this point, the Devil and Elliot snoop through Alison’s room and read her diary to see what she likes in a guy. Of course, no one can see them, because she’s the Devil and all. Elliot also sneaks a peek at her in the shower, because he wasn’t unsympathetic enough yet. Somehow, Bedazzled is still trying to pass off Elliot as a likable guy. Again, this was made 16 years ago.

Elliot’s second wish is to be the most emotionally sensitive man alive, and I’m sure this won’t result in a stereotype.

senstive

Right, because to be sensitive, you have to be a wimp who’s constantly crying and is uncomfortable with physical love. Once again, if this was playing with stereotypes, that would be fine. Instead, it’s a freaking love letter to stereotypes that died out decades ago. It’s uncomfortable to think of anyone approving this kind of thing being played so straight. I honestly feel like this script was written by thirteen-year old boys. That is clearly the only audience who will laugh at this.

If you’re still watching by the third wish, you win a prize.

brendan tri
Unfortunately, it’s this.

Elliot then wishes to become a basketball player, because how could that possibly go wrong? Okay, I get it, this is the equivalent of the rock star wish in the original, right? It’s about being someone who’s really popular for a short while, but whose star power fades quickly.

NOPE. What’s wrong with being a basketball player? He’s stupid. Get it? Because professional athletes are stupid and say “110%” a lot in interviews. In this bit, Alison is a sportswriter who is interested in him, but then she sees his small penis. That was painful to write. It’s not clever or presented humorously, but rather just “He’s dumb and has a small penis.” She then walks away, having no interest at all.

bball
And he looks more like a professional wrestler than a basketball player for some reason.

In the 1967 film, the Devil managed to slip his way into every scenario, often as an important character. Elizabeth Hurley’s Devil cameos in a few, but she is very underused. She’s just a cheerleader in this one, and she just walks by and interrupts Elliot’s date in another.

Wish four is to be intelligent and suave, so the Devil makes him gay. You know what? This one actually feels like something out of the original. Elliot doesn’t realize anything’s wrong right away, and he’s enjoying this new reality. It’s actually not playing off a stereotype, but merely a hitch in his wish… and that’s all undone when we meet his partner, who is the most standard gay stereotype in the book. So let’s check another potential audience group off the list of people who could enjoy this film. Moving on to wish five…

wish
I wish that I could make a movie with Sandra Bullock… and I wish it would win Best Picture.
hurley
Now darling, that will cost you at least two wishes. It takes the work of two Devils.
crash
And the Oscar goes to… Crash.
fallback
Finally, a wish with no fallout.
ten
Oh, just wait ten years.

With only three wishes to go, Elliot decides to switch things up and make a wish that’s noble. He wishes to be President of the United States.

lincoln

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was more respectful to historical figures than this. This bit could have worked if care and humor were put into it, but it’s just “Get it? You’re Lincoln on the night he got shot.” That’s the whole joke.

Just like in the original, the Devil tells him that his original test wish actually counted as one of his wishes. Having only one wish left, Elliot starts to look for a way out. He talks to a priest (Bryan Doyle-Murray, because Bill wasn’t helping Ramis out on this one), who has him arrested when he tries to explain his situation. He’s thrown in jail on a drunken disorderly without any kind of testing, because that’s how arrests work.

In jail, he meets God (Gabriel Casseus) who tells him that he can’t sell his soul, because it doesn’t belong to him anyway. Alright, so they don’t say his cellmate is God yet, but it’s such an obvious set up for a reveal later. This portrayal is such a painful attempt at a cool, hip God that it feels like something out a direct-to-video Christian movie. I get that having God be an actual character is a lot harder and a lot riskier than making Satan a character, but why can’t He be funny? It’s a comedy, right?

Elliot tries to get out of the contract by not making a seventh wish, but the Devil threatens him with Hell if he doesn’t make one. He wishes for Alison to have a happy life, and since this is a selfless wish, it undoes the contract. So which one is it? Was it possible for him to lose his soul or was it never on the line to begin with? I don’t see how it can be both. Another read through of the script could have probably fixed this. It’s just lazy.

Brendan Fraser gets his soul back and promises not to sell it again until he makes Furry Vengeance (It’s a real movie, look it up). He goes up to Alison, now confident to approach her, and asks her out. She is now seeing someone per his wish, but he soon meets Nicole, a lookalike who shares more of his interests. For all the dumb moments in this movie, I’m really glad he doesn’t end up together with Alison, because they clearly don’t have anything in common. Elliot passes God and the Devil playing chess, which I normally would assume is a shout-out to The Seventh Seal, but is probably just a coincidence knowing the rest of the movie.

chess
Remember that scene in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey? What if it was chess instead?

Wow. I thought The Ninth Gate was bad. Most of the best moments in Bedazzled 2000 are direct shout-outs to the original, like the Devil’s dogs being named Dudley and Peter or telling Elliot the soul is like an appendix. Elizabeth Hurley is very funny when given the opportunity, but as it goes on, it feels like they wanted to capitalize on her sexiness and downplay the humor, which is really a shame. Fraser is unbearable to watch in most of these sketches, and his character is so unlikable that we can’t sympathize with him. The supporting cast is mostly just his ragtag team of obnoxious co-workers (Orlando Jones, Paul Adelstein, Toby Huss) who appear in the various wishes, and Alison, who exists mainly just as the object of his affection.

Let’s get to the final score before I start wondering if I can dock it into the negatives.

Story (6/20 Points)

I mean, it’s the original Bedazzled story, but it’s not even half as good. It just kind of drags along for a while, caring less and less as it goes on. A modern-day remake had a lot of potential for interesting set-ups, but there just aren’t many. It also really can’t decide what the heck it is trying to say about souls and good and evil.

Faust (2/20 Points)

Brendan Fraser’s Elliot is the kind of loser who the Devil would try to tempt, but he’s such a caricature that we don’t feel anything for him. He’s also incredibly obnoxious, which doesn’t completely go along with the “Never change anything about yourself” message.

Devil (13/20 Points)

Elizabeth Hurley has incredible comedic timing, and perhaps with someone actually funny playing Elliot, she would have had more of a chance to show it off. She has her moments still though, meaning that oddly enough, the only redeeming factor in this movie is the Devil.

Supporting Cast (4/20 Points)

I don’t think I got a laugh out of one of them. I thought the idea of his co-workers constantly appearing the sketches was clever, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Also, this makes Bedazzled the second 2000s remake of a 1960s British film where Orlando Jones served no purpose.

Experience (1/20 Points)

This is an unpleasant film to watch. A few of the lines are funny, but these stereotypes are disgusting. Like I said, if the Devil had pointed out that she works in these caricatures, it would have been better, but instead they’re played straight. Seriously, who let brownface go in 2000? Seriously?

FINAL SCORE: 26%

Well, that means for the second week in a row, a new movie has taken the bottom spot. The only empathy Bedazzled makes me feel is for Elizabeth Hurley, who deserved a much better movie around her. She easily could have been one of the great movie Devils, and is instead put out of focus so Brendan Fraser can have his fifteen minutes. We all expected more from Harold Ramis.

Next week, it’s our tenth and final Faustian film as I review Terry Gilliam’s 2009 film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

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