[31 Days of Horror Part VII: The New Blood] Day 20 – [Happy 20th Birthday!] Bedazzled (2000)

Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor
Screenplay: Larry Gelbart, Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan
93 mins. Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, language and some drug content.

Bedazzled was one of the first DVDs I ever owned. I remember getting a DVD player (for the family) for Christmas and, after hearing my dad swearing at the DVD player for an hour when he couldn’t get it plugged in, I was able to start my collection of DVDs, one that has exploded into a dangerously large amount over the last twenty years. I added Bedazzled to my collection because I was regularly checking it out from the video store anyway, so I might as well save the rental money and just own it. Now, it’s been at least a decade since I saw it, and I was very excited to revisit it for the 20th anniversary, but I was very nervous that it could have aged terribly.

Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, Crash) is a bit of a loser. He’s an unpopular geek who desperately wants to be accepted by his co-workers. At the very least, he’d love to just be noticed by his beautiful colleague Alison Gardner (Frances O’Connor, The Conjuring 2, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), who doesn’t even seem to know he exists. When his latest attempt to speak to Alison fails, he is approached by a beautiful woman in a red dress, who introduces herself to Elliot as The Devil (Elizabeth Hurley, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, EDtv). The Devil offers Elliot a deal: to grant him seven wishes for his soul. Now, Elliot has seven wishes to woo Alison; now if he can only get the wording right.

To be clear: I haven’t seen the original 1967 film. Not that it matters, as we should be able to view a remake on its own ground. All that being said, Bedazzled is a very enjoyable film from director Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, Caddyshack). I actually really liked Brendan Fraser’s lead performance as Elliot. There’s a level of charisma in the way he related to me as a viewer. I think a lot of us have been in similar places to Elliot, feeling out of place in our day-to-day, wanting something or someone he can’t have, and it’s admirable that he would try to sell his soul to get her. I think Fraser gives a likability to the unlikable Elliot, making him someone to root for even as he bungles each attempt to win Alison’s affection.

I also really enjoyed Hurley’s take on the Devil. It only makes sense that the Devil would appear to a hopeless romantic as a stunningly gorgeous woman who can make him bend to her will. More than that, Hurley has fun with the role. She creates someone that the audience can enjoy, almost making us forget that she’s kind of an antagonist to Elliot’s search. We know the Devil doesn’t really want Elliot to succeed. She wants him to make his mistakes quickly so she can search out the next lost soul on the planet to work on, but Hurley works the expectations well. It’s not an Oscar-worthy performance, but she does add to the film with her presence.

Bedazzled isn’t a top-tier film for Harold Ramis. It doesn’t contain the level of zaniness that we’ve seen from him, but it gives another rare glimpse of the heart and thoughtfulness that he was able to get from films like Groundhog Day, a more contemplative work. Bedazzled isn’t as subtle, but it does have a lot of charm that makes it watchable. The film has aged a little rough in terms of the way it portrays certain stereotypes, but outside of that, it’s an enjoyable enough romp. Looking back on it, perhaps it’s because it was a repeat watch of mine as a child, but I do still revere it, and I was so glad to have revisited it.

3.5/5
-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 5th Birthday!] Furry Vengeance (2010)

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Director: Roger Kumble

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong, Angela Kinsey

Screenplay: Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert

92 mins. Rated PG for some rude humor, mild language and brief smoking.

 

In Furry Vengeance, from director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions, College Road Trip), Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, The Nut Job) has been brought in to turn a beautiful forest into a dense residential area by his boss Neal (Ken Jeong, TV’s Community, The Hangover). His wife Tammy (Brooke Shields, TV’s Suddenly Susan, The Other Guys) and son Tyler (Matt Prokop, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Struck by Lightning) are not fans of Dan’s new job, by the wildlife in the area prove to be the real problem. The many woodland creatures of the forest are out to stop Dan at all costs.

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I wish there were wildlife trying to stop the completion of this film. This is by far one of the worst pieces of garbage I have ever been forced to watch. Not a great time. These are some truly terrible performances. I think I giggled once at the opening featuring Rob Riggle in a cameo appearance, but then, literally, I think those animals straight up killed that guy. Dark turn for an opener. Later in the film, I would envy Riggle.

Roger Kumble fails on just about every level here. The film comes off as a horrible combination of a film promoting a good message and a crew destroying everything in sight. I’m trying to think of something good here. Someone ask me later, I have to go wash the smell of horseshit off me.

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Honestly, if you have Netflix, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, subject yourself to this. Please, go out and plant a tree and say you watched the film. You’ll be better off. Planet Earth will be better off. See, everyone wins.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Nut Job (2014)

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Director: Peter Lepeniotis

Cast: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl

Screenplay: Lorne Cameron, Peter Lepeniotis

85 mins. Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

 

The Nut Job tells the tale of Surly, a squirrel who gets exiled from his city park home and plans a nut heist with his animal friends to earn his way back. That’s about it. This film is literally even more disappointing than the trailer revealed. As far as plot goes, I enjoyed it the first time I watched it, when it was called Over the Hedge. I struggled to not grab my phone and live-tweet the boredom throughout all 85 minutes.

Will Arnett (TV’s Arrested Development, The Lego Movie) is Surly, the squirrel (see, they rhyme).

The animation here is low-bar and kind of offensive to the eyes. The constant replaying of Psy’s Gangnam Style makes me hate music. The finale literally ruins the cheesy wonder of the song. Many of the characters are difficult to differentiate from one another.

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I feel like I can’t say any more about this bad bad movie except that there will likely be a sequel in two years…ugh.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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