Guilty Pleasure: Bedazzled ('99)

For the record, I still stand by the idea that Brendan Fraser would dominate as Superman. Now, granted I'm not a fan -- at all -- of the character, but I'd cough up the change to see ole' Rick O'Connell as the Man of Steel. If Brendan Fraser shows a differential dynamic between nerdy behavior and the confidence that Superman exudes anywhere in another film, it's in Bedazzled.

Bedazzled is an odd bird; it fumbles in trying to find the right balance between tongue-and-cheek lunacy and romantic disparity. But, for some odd reason, I freakin' love the movie for everything that it tries to be. Adapted from a '60s film by the same name featuring the exact same story, we indulge in Elizabeth Hurley as a vixen-style incarnation of The Devil as she tinkers with worming Elliot's (Brandan Fraser) soul from his grasp. She promises him the world: wealth, power, attractiveness, you name it. But, being the Devil and all, she screws him over by finding a hilarious loophole behind every scenario. Thankfully, he's got a remote-controlled panic button to reset his world and attempt his next wish. Betcha wish you had one of those on a daily basis.

That's the entire rhythm behind Bedazzled: Elliot makes wish # X out of 10, while the Devil mucks it up for him while wearing some scorching hot outfit. What's great about this dynamic lies in the fact that, everso slyly, Hurley's Devil incorporates boyhood sexual fantasies into each and every scene where she screws with Elliot's head. At one time she's a meter maid, while another as a school teacher, etc., etc. It wraps up the still boyish Elliot in a world of desire -- of unsatisfied fantasies that most guys go without ever enjoying.

All the while, he's making these elaborate wishes, growing more and more embellished and intricate as he adapts to the Devil's tinkering, while also panning after a single woman and building his confidence through the Hells of his ever-changing world. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? Assuredly, director Harold Ramis -- also knows as Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters and as the director of Groundhog Day -- had these allusive ideas in mind when he crafted the adapted script, if not for anything else but the sheer purpose of titillation.

Okay, so Bedazzled isn't the headiest film to come out about desire and consequence. But it's so easily digestible and infinitely rewatchable that the introspective sprinkles atop this sugary-as-hell sundae are a great touch. You relish in watching the nerd get his wishes, grasp them in his fingers -- then watch the Omega force behind them find that one lil' button that sends him over the edge. Of course, Fraser and Hurley are great in both their roles; however, they display an unexpected level of chemistry that takes me aback.

It's worth noting, though, that if Elizabeth Hurley were the "Devil" and were staring practically any male figure down, they'd probably show a big of chemistry there too. But their respective styles -- Hurley's blistering energy and Fraser's squirmish backpedaling -- intermingle perfectly in Bedazzled, which make it a brisk cocktail of style that has a lot of fun in being a silly mockery of human desire.


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