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review added: 4/20/01



Bedazzled
Special Edition - 2000 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

THX-certifiedEnhanced for 16x9 TVs

Bedazzled: Special Edition Film Rating: D+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/B+

Specs and Features

93 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:41, in chapter 13), THX-certified, audio commentary with director Harold Ramis, audio commentary with star Elizabeth Hurley and producer Trevor Albert, The Making of Bedazzled HBO featurette, extended basketball sequence, 2 scoring session clips, Bedazzling Designs with Deena Appel featurette, still gallery, theatrical trailer, TV spots, THX Optimode test signals, Nuon-enhanced features (see review text below for details), film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


Okay, here's the scoop... Bedazzled is an uninspired remake of a very funny 1967 British film of the same name. The original was written by (and starred) Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Director Harold Ramis attempted to modernize the story by giving it a 21st century sensibility and high profile leads, and by pumping up the subtle humor of the original. Unfortunately, it didn't work.

Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is a lonely, pathetic computer tech-support geek. The closest things he has to friends are his coworkers, who talk negatively about him behind his back. And since he's fairly socially inept, he has no girlfriend. Elliot has a major crush on the beautiful Alison (Frances O'Connor), but he can't seem to get close to her romantically. One night, the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) approaches him and talks him into selling her his soul in exchange for seven wishes. All that Elliot wants is to be with Alison, but every time he makes a wish, the Devil viciously exploits some loophole in his wishing to foil Elliot's plans. For example, Elliot wants to be rich and successful so that he can give Alison anything she wants... but the Devil makes him an infamous South American drug lord. So Elliot's challenge is to be with Alison by outsmarting the Devil before he runs out of wishes. Will it work, or will he have to find another way?

This movie is not funny and script is very unoriginal. The jokes are weak and telegraphed, and some of them go on far too long (see: the sensitive wish and the entire basketball sequence). On the positive side, Brendan Fraser is actually pretty good in this film. He's always able to convincingly disappear into the very different roles for each wish segment. And the idea of writing the Devil as a sexy, alluring female is intriguing on the surface. But that's pretty much it for the positives, because Ms. Hurley is just not able to do enough with her role to keep the hook of the devil being a chick fresh for the length of the film. But I don't entirely blame her for the film's failure. That dishonor belongs entirely to the script and the director. That's sad, because Ramis is usually much better than this. In fact... he's always much better than this.

The original 1967 film was so much better. Its humor was much more subtle, and the film succeeded because of a clever script and the brilliant chemistry of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (when Hurley shows up on the beach during Elliot's sensitivity wish, her dogs are named Dudley and Peter… now you know why). As a big fan of the original, I was really let down by the new film, especially considering that the humor of the new version is nowhere near as creative as the original. But even standing on its own, without having to live up to the original, Bedazzled is still a very weak comedic offering.

Even though the film is a real stinker, Fox has served up an excellent special edition DVD. The anamorphic widescreen image is quite good. Colors are well saturated (especially the bold reds), and fine detail is well conveyed. Compression artifacting is kept to a minimum, but a bit of minor picture noise pops up here and there. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is always appropriately quiet or raucous depending on the circumstance. Music is nicely spread throughout the listening environment, and a few cool directional effects can be heard. Overall, this is a fine audio/video presentation that will surely please (even if the movie doesn't).

This disc certainly isn't short on the extras, either. First off, you'll find two audio commentary tracks. The first is with director Harold Ramis. It's a fairly bland commentary, but Ramis focuses in on a lot of what went into the casting and making of the film, and just barely succeeds in being informative. The second commentary is with star Elizabeth Hurley and producer Trevor Albert. Hurley doesn't seem to participate as much as Albert, and the track covers much of the same ground as Ramis' commentary. A 13-minute, HBO "making of" featurette is included on this disc, and contains some illuminating tidbits... as well as its fair share of butt-kissing (but at least they admit it in the featurette). The most interesting parts of the featurette are the explanations of how the filmmakers transformed Fraser into so many different characters. A painfully long extension of the basketball scene can also be here, which showcases the announcers free-styling their post-game commentary. Also on board is a short featurette, Bedazzling Designs with Deena Appel, which discusses Elizabeth Hurley's seductive wardrobe (by costume designer Appel). There are 2 short scoring session clips, showing an orchestra performing to a corresponding scene in the film (shown here in a small window). A gallery of conceptual art, the theatrical trailer and TV spots round out the supplements.

I guess it's also important to note that Bedazzled is the first DVD to feature Nuon-enhanced features, but (to be completely honest) we haven't reviewed them. Few people actually have Nuon-compatible DVD players anyway, and the disc gives no indication as to what these features are. Fox certainly hasn't chosen to overly promote its first (and possibly last?) Noun-enhanced title as such. You can barely see the Nuon logo on the back of the packaging! We understand that these features include Viddies ("dynamic bookmarks of scenes from the film along thematic lines"), Gamma Zooms (which "lets the studio pre-select interesting still frames and highlight behind-the-scenes stories and points of interest") and Hyper Slides (which "brings the stills gallery to life by contrasting the art director's concept with the movie director's implementation"). We don't much care. And given that, to our knowledge, Bedazzled is the ONLY studio film to include Nuon-enhancement thus far, neither (it seems) does anyone else... at least at the moment. All that information comes from the Nuon home page, by the way, which is worth visiting if you like the technology.

Do yourself a favor and rent this disc before you plunk down your hard-earned money for it. The comedy is weak and uninspired, despite valiant efforts by Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley. On the bright side, the disc itself sports a wonderful audio/video presentation, and a decent list of extras, so at least it's not a total loss. But if I had seven wishes, I'd use one to get the original 1967 version of Bedazzled on DVD. Please... make it come true Fox!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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