The road to artistic hell has umpteen on-ramps, and one of the busiest lately is the boulevard of broken remakes. Why do fools rush in? Easy: Stars are overpriced and overbooked, and execs want pretested concepts to snag them and get production rolling with a minimum of painful script work.
But a little more script work, at the very least, should have gone into the manufacture of the black comedy Bedazzled. The 1967 original starred Dudley Moore as a shlub trying to wrest his soul from an acerbic Satan (Peter Cook) through six wish-fulfillment identities. Here we get Hollywood’s I’ll-do-anything champ, Brendan Fraser, opposite fetching but limited model-cum-comedian Elizabeth Hurley.
Fraser’s physical shtick works well in spots, especially his turn as a freckle-faced aesthete. But director and co-rewriter Harold Ramis, a long way from career high Groundhog Day, lets his star run wild — especially at the movie’s start, where Fraser way overdoes the nerdy tics. Hurley can’t pump much sizzle into her flat lines — ”I left my purse in the underworld!” — which Larry Gelbart (guiding light of TV’s M*A*S*H) and Peter Tolan (Analyze This) helped concoct. Only production designer Rick Heinrichs, a longtime Tim Burton collaborator, works full throttle here, packing the screen with lush eye candy. Something to chew on in lieu of a nuttier comic nougat. C-