Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
It was the fall of 1967. Elizabeth Hurley was two and probably not wearing Estee Lauder cosmetics yet. Brendan Fraser would be born the following year & Great Britain s best and brightest comedy team had just released their latest film, "Bedazzled." Peter Cook and Dudley Moore had dreamed up the story together and Cook had written the screenplay that would be directed by the great Stanley Donen. The original "Bedazzled" was so funny that some audience members actually fell out of their seats and pounded the floor in hysterics. (I know everyone always says that, but its true!) Anyway, the key word in that sentence is "some", because for all the brilliance of its two stars and a cast that included Eleanor Bron as a Wimpy's waitress, Raquel Welch as Lillian Lust and Barry Humphries as Envy, "Bedazzled" became a cult favorite and not, alas, a smash hit. If it HAD been a smash, maybe 21st century artistes might have had the sense not to monkey around with a perfectly marvelous script and a concept that was as sound as the British pound used to be.
The nicest thing that can be said for the remake is that the grownup Miss Hurley wears a succession of stunning costumes designed by Deena Appel, Sonya Rykiel, Donatella Versace and others. But most people don't go to the movies just to see the costumes, so I'm going to have to be mean here and say that the parts of "Bedazzled" (2000) that are funny are not new and the parts that are new are not funny. Brendan Fraser is so charming he can even wring a chuckle or two from Pauly Shore movies, but he can do nothing with Harold Ramis' D.O.A. script & direction, which wring the charm right out of him in one dreary digitised sequence after another. The object of his desire is Frances O'Connor, who is not shown to good advantage either. The only remotely funny actor here is Orlando Jones, who plays five different parts and looks like he's making another movie.
The sad thing about Elizabeth Hurley is that she can act (rent 1989's "Christabel" for proof) but in this movie she chooses to strike poses instead. On record for saying that the first thing she did when seeing herself in the tabloids was lose 15 pounds and that she'd kill herself if she ever got as fat as Marilyn Monroe, Hurley oozes physical perfection but no real emotion. Just after another Elizabeth (Taylor) turned 35 in 1967, she won an Oscar for NOT losing 15 pounds, shedding her physical perfection and flooding the screen with emotion as Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" At this stage of her increasingly shaky career, Hurley would do well to re-screen the original "Bedazzled," with Peter Cook's wry observations about the bargains we make with life and death.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 10/18/00
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