This Month's Featured Equipment Reviews
Written by Abbie Bernstein
Tuesday, 15 April 2003
|20th Century Fox Home Video
||Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor
There’s a saying that goes, "The Devil is in the details." The folks
involved in the remake of "Bedazzled" might have heeded that adage a
little more, as they ignore their own mythology at their peril.
This "Bedazzled" is a remake of the original 1967 "Bedazzled," itself a
spoof of the Faust legend. In both movies, a lonely, lovestruck schnook
sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for seven wishes in order to
land the girl of his dreams. Naturally, the wishes all come with
unforeseen drawbacks. The first version was directed by Stanley Donen,
starring and, perhaps even more importantly, written by Peter Cook and
Dudley Moore. Cook and Moore were a formidable comedy team in their
heyday – think of a slightly earlier Monty Python troupe as a duo.
The new "Bedazzled" gets off to a very promising start, with an opening
Devil’s-eye view of the world in Chapter 1, picking out individuals in
crowds and labeling them ("freeloader" for a baby in a backpack, for
instance), seeking susceptible souls. Then the movie proper gets going
and settles down for what turns out to be a not entirely
non-entertaining but still long haul.
Brendan Fraser plays our hero Elliot, a tech support worker who is so
nerdy that he is universally shunned. He pines for beautiful co-worker
Alison (Frances O’Connor), who doesn’t know he exists. When the Devil
(Elizabeth Hurley) appears and offers to make it possible for Elliot to
have his heart’s desire, Elliot very sensibly is initially skeptical.
However, he inevitably caves in, only to find that there’s a loophole
or two in every wish.
Each wish finds the versatile and game Fraser in a different persona,
which shows off his acting gifts but winds up not serving the plot.
Here is where the script by Larry Gelbart and director Harold Ramis
& Peter Tolan collapses on itself. The first wish, in which Elliot
wants to be rich, powerful and married to Alison and winds up in a very
dicey situation, is funny because Elliot is shocked by his trappings.
However, thereafter Elliot is at home in his new identities without
ever wishing to be. Worse, although the wishes are supposed to unravel
on technicalities, they don’t adhere to the letter of the wish in the
first place. In Wish # 2, Elliot wants Alison to be in love with him;
instead, she’s bored silly by him. No matter which way you cut it, this
goes against the fundamental premise – which might still be okay if it
had a decent payoff. However, the rules of the game are cheated for
what often turn out to be lame results. "Bedazzled" isn’t nearly
outrageous enough to get away with assuming the audience isn’t really
Fraser is at least consistently lively, appealing (even when he’s not
supposed to be – Fraser as a character who’s worried about being
unattractive and unfit may be a bigger stretch than the story’s
theology) and good company. Hurley is monumentally sexy, although she
hardly exudes supernatural menace. Then again, the movie can’t seem to
make up its mind just how evil her Devil is, so the lightweight effect
can’t be wholly blamed on the actress.
The DVD features one lightly joking, okay commentary track from
director Ramis and another commentary from Hurley and producer Trevor
Albert that features discussion of the various locations. The making-of
featurette is standard. More interesting are the two scoring sessions,
which provide picture-in-picture action of the scenes in question while
showing the orchestra in the studio, playing the music. One special
feature that will appeal to audiophiles is the THX audio/video test,
which allows the user to check out home theatre equipment performance
in relation to the DVD. The opening menu is coy, giving the viewer four
"wishes" that all lead to the main menu. The commentary tracks can be
found in both the "languages" and "special features" menus.
The 5.1 mix is fairly uninspired. Ambient sounds are mixed into the
rears, but so lightly that in order to hear them, it is necessary to
virtually put ear to speaker, especially in the first three chapters,
although Chapter 4 finally amps up with the introduction of the Devil.
Chapter 1 features a bouncy rendition of "Sweet You" from Johnny Walker
that sounds lively in the center and mains. Chapter 6 produces one big,
startling audio sting in all speakers when Elliot signs his contract.
Chapter 7 has one of the film’s better visual effects, a rack-focus
that starts on Elliot and zooms out to an improbable distance to show
the extent of his newfound wealth. The rears come to life somewhat in
Chapter 8, which has a shoot-out, a rocket launcher and finally the
inevitable whir of helicopter rotors, which are all present but still
not very punchy. Chapter 17 presents another big, multi-speaker audio
sting to herald a wish transition and Chapter 19 has some pretty,
delicate guitar music in the mains.
Normally it’s not fair to compare films to one another, but this
"Bedazzled" invites at least memories of the earlier version by
borrowing not only the title but certain framework elements, as opposed
to simply being an independent comic update of "Faust." Expecting the
equivalent of Cook and Moore at their peak would be still more unfair,
but wanting a movie that at least is consistent on its own terms seems
reasonable enough. Parts of "Bedazzled" are funny, but too often, the
movie seems to expect us to laugh at punchlines that don’t have
|English 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; French Dolby Surround
Featurette; Audio Commentary Track with Director Harold Ramis; Audio
Commentary Track with Elizabeth Hurley and Producer Trevor Albert;
Costume Design Featurette; Stills Gallery; Two Scoring Sessions; THX
Audio and Video Tests; Theatrical Trailers; English and Spanish
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