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Hell on high heels

Fraser is funny, Hurley is hot in 'Bedazzled'

graphic

In this story:

A devilish deal

Sneaky Satan


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(CNN) -- If pure comedic fluff is your idea of a fun time at the movies, line up for "Bedazzled," the sophomoric comedy about the hazards of not reading the fine print in contracts.

Starring the wildly talented Brendan Fraser and the surprisingly good Elizabeth Hurley, this is a broad yuk-fest about the devil granting wishes in exchange for souls. Sound familiar? In 1967, a film with the same name and plot debuted, starring the legendary British comic genius Peter Cook and his frequent partner, Dudley Moore. Stanley Donen directed.

This time, Harold Ramis takes the director/writer reins, and has produced an updated "Bedazzled" with more than a few twists in store. The devil is now a beautiful woman -- Hurley, of course -- and the soul she's lusting after belongs to mild-mannered Elliot Richards, played perfectly by Fraser.

A devilish deal

Richards is a total nerd who is socially inept, painfully earnest, and seemingly incapable of forming friendships. He's also hopelessly enamored of co-worker Alison Gardner, played by Australian actress Frances O'Connor.

After getting a polite brush-off by the object of his affections he utters those fateful words: "God, I'd do anything to have that girl in my life."

He gets Satan instead. Beelzebub Hurley arrives, hotter than the very flames below, wearing the first of a parade of red, skin-tight outfits.

She makes him an offer he can't refuse. In return for seven wishes, Elliot will give his immortal soul to the lady in red. Elliot is hooked.

Each wish involves the unattainable Alison, and each wish is utterly sabotaged by the endlessly creative Satan in satin. Here's the hitch: If Elliot is ever dissatisfied with how a wish has turned out, all he has to do is press 6-6-6 on a special beeper and -- Zap! -- he's instantly back to his own reality.

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As you may imagine, there is a whole lot of zapping going on.

When he wishes to be rich and powerful, the devil with the red dress on turns him into a Colombian drug lord. When he wants to be a famous jock, she turns him into a 7-foot-tall basketball star who's dumber than dirt and embarrassingly lacking in his personal equipment.

Sneaky Satan

Each incarnation gives Fraser a fresh opportunity to display his enormous comic talents. He's like Charlie Brown, who tries each fall to kick the football that Lucy's holding -- and, each time, he goes airborne when she yanks it away. Elliot falls for the devil's promises time after time in the futile hope that the next wish will be the charm, sending him and Alison walking off into the sunset. Don't bet on it, though.

Hurley's posh British accent, intense beauty and air of worldliness makes her a perfect counterpoint to Fraser's innocent-schmuck routine, a persona he adopted with impressive results in "George of the Jungle" (1997) and to lesser effect in the relentlessly unfunny "Dudley Do-Right" (1999).

Ramis, being Ramis, never misses an opportunity for a cheap sight gag or juvenile one-liner, but the director -- "Caddyshack" (1980) -- knows how to aim for the funny bone. He hits it more than he misses.

Broad stereotypes about gays, jocks and sensitive men abound in this idiotic giggle fest, but that's tempered by the combination of Hurley and Fraser. They make this film a whole lot better than it should have been.

"Bedazzled" opens nationwide on Friday. Rated PG-13. 93 minutes.



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