Brendan Fraser sells his soul for laughs in this moderately hot remake of the 1967 Dudley Moore comedy.
In the zillionth riff on the Faust legend, lonely techno nerd Elliot (Fraser) is so in love with a co-worker (Australia's Frances O'Connor) that he trades his immortal soul to a vampy female manifestation of Satan (Elizabeth Hurley) in exchange for seven wishes. But wishing he led various other lives (as an NBA superstar, a brilliant author) has a way of backfiring at the worst possible moments. Will Elliot get it right before he runs out of wishes - and before the filmmakers run out ways to twist the concept?
Fraser steps up to the demands of playing several distinct variations of his character, but he doesn't have it in him to knock the picture out of the park the way a first-rate comic on the order of Jim Carrey or Steve Martin might have. Ditto for Hurley ("Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"), who oozes screen presence but whose comedic skills don't seem to extend beyond using the fantasy combo of her supermodel looks and British sophistication as an ongoing gag.
Former Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, who with "Groundhog Day," "Multiplicity" and "Analyze This" has been quietly proving himself the most reliable director of mainstream comedies in Hollywood, takes the piece as far as the limitations of his lead actors will allow it to go. The script (by "Tootsie's" Larry Gelbart, Ramis and "What Planet Are You From?'s" Peter Tolan) isn't nearly as inspired as "Groundhog Day," which it resembles in both structure and theme, but Ramis manages to keep things popping with expert pacing and a devilish sense of fun.
Great for a Brendan Fraser movie, so-so for a Harold Ramis movie, "Bedazzled" beats eternal damnation.