Bedazzled

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Bedazzled

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is a socially repellent, over-zealous and dweeby computer company employee who is avoided by his co-workers and has absolutely zero friends. Though he has a crush on a co-worker named Alison (Frances O’Connor), who he’s never met, he’s too scared and awkward to do anything about it. Enter The Devil, played with flirtatious spunk by Elizabeth Hurley, who offers Elliot whatever he wants, including the love he’s so desperate for, in the form of seven wishes. All he has to do is give up is his soul. You know, that old chestnut.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Brendan Fraser enjoyed a steady stream of work and fame throughout the 1990s and 2000s, ranging from once-thriving studio comedies like Encino Man, Son-in-Law, Airheads, and Blast from the Past to the blockbuster run of the Mummy trilogy. Unfortunately, he mostly fell off the radar in the 2010s, a disappearance that was chronicled in an eye-opening profile of the actor at GQ. But if there’s one movie that shows Fraser’s outstanding comedic skills, it’s the hilarious array of characters he plays in Bedazzled, a remake of the 1967 comedy of the same name.

In Bedazzled, Fraser’s character Elliot keeps trying to perfect his wish to have a happily-ever-after with his co-worker crush Alison. But because it’s The Devil fulfilling these wishes, there’s always something that ends up being wrong with them. In each of his wishes, Fraser plays a dramatically different, over-exaggerated version of himself, including an affable Colombian drug cartel boss, an overly sensitive nice guy, a towering redneck basketball player, an intellectual gay author, and even Abraham Lincoln. Each of these roles showcase Fraser’s gift for broad comedy that are essentially parody, and he’s damn good at it, offering a delightful range of silly voices and physical comedy.

Also helping Fraser is his continued hysterical exasperation with Elizabeth Hurley and her devilish tricks. Though Hurley doesn’t have the widest range as a performer, this kind of role is perfect for her. It allows her to mix the sexuality and seductiveness from her career as a model into a gender-swapped version of the devil that gives her an impressive screen presence. The way she and Fraser play off each other works surprisingly well. Plus, there’s the supporting cast of Orlando Jones, Paul Adelstein, Toby Huss, and Miriam Shor, each playing Elliot’s co-workers who recur throughout his wishes.

Plus, you might be surprised to learn that this is a Harold Ramis movie, which explains some of the Groundhog Day touches, with Elliot being stuck in this nightmare of romances consistently gone wrong, not to mention a bit of Multiplicity thanks to the various versions of Elliot we see throughout the movie. Bedazzled is broad to be sure, and it’s not anything groundbreaking or even especially sharp. But Brendan Fraser’s comedic performance make it something that stands out from the barrage of mediocre comedies from its era. Make a deal with the devil and give it a shot this weekend.

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