Bedazzled (2000)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Brenda Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor
Extras: Commentary tracks, Featurette, Scoring Sessions, Costume Designs, Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots, Still Gallery

In the past, we’ve discussed the fashion in which Hollywood works in trends. Typically, we speak of this in terms of theatrical releases. But, recently, we’ve seen a trend in home video releases. It appears that all hell is breaking loose, as the devil has been showing up everywhere as of late. With the recent "Bless the Child" and "Lost Souls", we’ve gotten the traditional horrific portrayal of Satan. But, with the new comedy "Bedazzled", we are treated to a devil, who is both funny and beautiful in Elizabeth Hurley. A remake of a 1967 Dudley Moore-Peter Cooke film, "Bedazzled" has been updated for the 21st century, and brings us a fun romp with an important message.

Brendan Fraser stars in "Bedazzled" as Elliot Richards, a man who is the consummate loser. He works in tech-support in a computer company, pesters his co-workers, and has no friends. He has a mad-crush on Alison (Frances O’Connor), a co-worker whom he has never spoken to. After a failed attempt to ask Alison out, Elliot states that he would give anything to have her. That’s when The Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) shows up. The Devil tells Elliot that she can make all of his dreams come true, and that Alison will love him. Elliot will get seven wishes, with which he can do as he likes. The catch is that The Devil gets his soul. As he is very desperate for love and acceptance, Elliot takes the plunge.

But soon, Elliot learns that The Devil is not to be trusted. As Elliot makes each of his wishes, for wealth, power, intelligence, etc., he also wishes for the love of Alison. But, each time, The Devil takes his wish very literally and the whole thing blows up in his face. Despite the fact that Elliot tries to be very careful and wish for things very specifically, something always goes wrong. By the time that Elliot realizes that The Devil is not to be trusted, he is running low on wishes and he must find a way to save his soul.

"Bedazzled" is one of those movies that is entertaining, but also has something to say. As with his "Groundhog Day", director/co-writer Harold Ramis balances the outrageous comedy, with some fairly touching scenes. While "Bedazzled" isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as either "Groundhog Day" or Ramis’ most recent effort "Analyze This", the film is consistently funny, and moves along at a nice pace. From the outset, we know that all of Elliot’s wishes will end up backfiring. Similar to the way in which the audience attempts to guess how Greg will screw up each situation in "Meet the Parents", we try to guess what will go wrong with each of Elliot’s fantasies. And while some are predictable, quite a few of them caught me off guard. Another nice touch is the fact that Elliot’s co-workers Dan (the hilarious Orlando Jones), Bob (Paul Adelstein), and Lance (Toby Huss) appear in each of Elliot’s fantasies as different characters. (Ramis likens this to "The Wizard of Oz") My only real complaint about "Bedazzled" is that the ending felt like a bit of a cop-out, but otherwise the film is likable and entertaining.

>Brendan Fraser gives the performance of a lifetime in "Bedazzled". Playing no less than five characters, Fraser becomes a comic tour de force, as he goes from speaking Spanish to playing basketball. (Kudos must also go to special effects make-up artist Matthew Mungle and his crew for the incredible transformations of Fraser’s countenance.) Even under piles of latex, Fraser delivers a funny and heartfelt performance. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Hurley appears to have been born to play The Devil. Her sexy playfulness is perfect for the role and her constant costume changes practically become a significant part of the film.

"Bedazzled" arrives on DVD straight from hell! No, seriously, it’s from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and it’s devilishly good. The film is presented in a stellar <$THX,THX>-certified <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and is <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1. The image is a basically pristine transfer of the film. The image is crystal clear, free of any noise or distortion. The amount of grain is negligible, and can only be made out in the scenes that have direct sunlight. These features give the image a great deal of depth. The colors are extraordinary, mainly seen in the red and black costumes worn by Hurley. The framing appears to be accurate and there are no intrusive problems from compression or any artifacting.

The quality continues with the audio mix on the "Bedazzled" DVD. The <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1 soundtrack perfectly compliments the impressive visuals. The mix offers a surround-sound package, which rivals most any action film. With the various segments in the film, we are treated to gunshots, rave music, crowd noises, etc. All of these various sounds fill the speakers, and demonstrate an excellent sound field and very specific screen/speaker sound placement. For the ultimate example of sound on this disc, go to the 0:23:45 mark, and hear the audio envelop the room. With the music, there is a nice bass response, but it isn’t overwhelming or distracting. And of course, all of the dialogue is crisp and clear.

As Fox releases more DVD product, they are constantly trying to improve their special features. "Bedazzled" offers two audio commentaries. The first features co-writer/producer/director Harold Ramis. Ramis’ talk is very intelligent, but not overly technical. He mainly sticks to scene specific topics and gives a great deal of information about each scene. Ramis also brings in a lot of insight about how the film was made and the thematic issues in the film. Unfortunately, Ramis also gives away some things that detract from the overall quality of the DVD package (see "Deleted Scenes" below).

The second commentary features producer Trevor Albert and star Elizabeth Hurley. Albert does 99% of the talking here, and at first I thought that Hurley’s comments were simply being edited in, but she is in fact with Albert as he talks. Albert does ask Hurley questions and she says things here and there, but she’s basically silent for most of the film. But, that’s not entirely bad, as most of Albert’s comments are relevant and insightful. Unfortunately, a lot of what he says mirrors Ramis’ commentary. But, between the two commentaries, you will learn most anything that you would want to know about the production of "Bedazzled."

Next, we are treated to "The Making of ’Bedazzled’". This 14-minute featurette originally aired on HBO, and is hosted by Elizabeth Hurley. It gives us behind-the-scenes footage, as well as interviews with the cast and crew. "The Making of ’Bedazzled’" does a good job of encapsulating a great deal of information, as it details the origin of the film, gives information about the production, and offers a peek at how the visual effects were accomplished. Keeping with the behind-the-scenes theme, there are two separate sections which show composer David Newman conducting his orchestra. The specific scene that is being scored in shown in the lower left corner of the screen.

Also on the disc is a still gallery, which contains nearly 50 pictures. The bulk of these stills are production design sketches, which show in detail how some of the more outrageous sets were designed and constructed. Along these same lines, there is a five minute segment entitled "Bedazzling Designs with Deena Appel". In this brief feature, costume designer Deena Appel discusses the design concepts behind Elizabeth Hurley’s wardrobe, and reveals that some of Elizabeth’s costumes were clothes that she already owned. Rounding out these special features, we have the theatrical trailer and three TV spots. There is also a brief promo spot for the film’s soundtrack. It should also be mentioned that the "Bedazzled" DVD offers some spectacular and unique menus. There is one main menu, and then four sub-main menus, each named for a particular personality trait, which Elliot displays in the film.

In his commentary, Ramis discusses an entire rock ’n roll fantasy sequence, which was shot and then cut out, and despite the fact that it appears to be missing from the disc, it can actually found on the disc as a hidden feature. It is an extensive, orgasmic scene that is quite frantic and nightmarish at times – and it begins to drag after a little while. Ramis states that the rock sequence was cut because test audiences didn’t like it, and I can see why.

"Bedazzled" is the first disc that also features dedicated NUON content. In a dedicated section, users with a NUON-enabled DVD player can take a look at selected still images from the movie and use NUON’s features to examine them in more detail. Utilizing NUON’s capabilities, the DVD also features extended chapter selections on these players, offering full motion previews – taken directly from the film and not looping minimized snippets – that also come with additional description. These features are nice additions, although none of them would certainly justify replacing your current player if it is not NUON-enabled.

I had a hell of a good time watching "Bedazzled". The movie is clever and funny, and any movie in which Elizabeth Hurley is dressed as a naughty schoolteacher is OK by me. Oh, and Brendan Fraser is pretty good as well. The "Bedazzled" DVD offers a picture-perfect transfer, making this a reference quality DVD. If I had seven wishes, I’d wish that all DVDs looked as good as this one. And for some ice cream…no, a pizza…no…