Guilt Trip: Bedazzled (2000)

This week in our column of shame, Joe Holloran looks back at the 2000 remake of the Peter Cook & Dudley Moore classic

Joe Holloran
5th December 2016
Back in 1967, the classic comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore brought the story of Faust into the modern age.

The film follows Stanley Moon (Moore) and his meeting with the charismatic George Spiggott (Cook), who just so happens to be the Devil. Satan gives Moon the chance to change himself to appeal to the love of his life, Margaret. Of course, Satan being Satan, the changes brought about make Moon’s life a misery for him, but a laugh for us. That film is not one anyone should feel guilty about liking, but I am talking about the 2000 remake where Moore is replaced with Brendan Fraser (that guy from The Mummy) and Elizabeth Hurley.

The late Harold Ramis (above) is perhaps best known as the writer of the original Ghostbusters (1984). Image:IMDB

The 2000 version follows the same plot as the original, but with an American twist. Unlike the original (which follows a straight narrative and focuses more on the morality of the deal), the remake plays out more like a sketch show with the uncomfortably clunky scenes between Fraser and Hurley interrupted by short trips into what could have been. Some of these scenes bring about few laughs, for instance when Elliot wished he was more articulate to impress the girl of his dreams Allison, he ends up being a gay writer in a New York apartment. When the film plays to stereotypes, it falls flat. Despite this caveat, it is hard not to laugh when Elliot’s wish to become more sensitive and empathic toward Allison ends up with him on a beach with a sketchbook crying over a sunset.

If the film was all bad, it wouldn’t warrant a place in this column. The film has several redeeming high points that with me at least brought about genuine belly laughs. The first being when Elliot wishes he was more athletic and finds himself a 7ft basketball player, but of course in the Faustian way of things, his intelligence is severely shrunken (along with, uh, other things). His reaction to which reminds me why a comedy legend like Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) took on the project.

Another high point comes along when Elliot wishes he was richer, and then wakes up in the reality where he is a Columbian drug lord with the police closing in. Fraser’s Spanish cadence when he realises what he believed to be sugar is in fact cocaine is worth watching the film for alone.

So, in conclusion, if you feel like watching a moving and funny film, then stick to Ramis’s prior work like Groundhog Day and Caddyshack, but if you feel like watching an hour and a half-long sketch comedy that displays the comedic sensibilities of Brendan Fraser, while also displaying a lot of Elizabeth Hurley in general, then give Bedazzled a go.

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