|Star:||Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch|
|Cert / Year:||15 / 1967|
Stanley Moon is a burger cook at Wimpy. He has fallen for waitress Margaret Spencer but is too shy to talk to her. Desperately unhappy with his live he tries to commit suicide when the Devil or George Spiggott as he likes to be called appears to him to offer him seven wishes to change his life and win the girl of his dreams in return for his eternal soul. Stanley signs but when your future happiness is involved would you trust the devil?
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were one of the most inventive and best comedy double acts to appear on British television in the sixties. Their show Not Only but Also was innovative and ground breaking and amongst others it paved to way for type of surrealist humor championed by Monty Python's Flying Circus. This film was the culmination of this double act and featured much of the same humor seen in their television series.
Religion and comedy are controversial bedfellows. It is a combination that is rarely tackled and even more rarely tackled well. But this isn't a comedy spoof like the excellent The Life of Brian or a swipe at a particular religious doctrine as in Dogma this is more of send up at the whole good verses evil, heaven and hell thing, and as such it is pretty successful.
The film is structured into a series of alternate realities for Stanley Moon each successfully sabotaged by the Devil. Linking these wishes are sections where Stanley and George get to know each other as Stanley gets to see George at work. This series of scenes feel like a section of sketches from their comedy shows, and just like any set of sketches some work better than others. The problem is many of these sections while undoubtedly clever go on too long and there just isn't enough material there to stretch these individual gags out. It is no coincidence then that the best of the wishes is the pop star segment that is one of the shortest. This would have made for a very average film but for the superb linking segments.
It is the sections in between the wishes where the script is at its sharpest and the jokes are at there best. Peter Cook is simply superb in these scenes as he plays a devil who isn't evil but is just doing his job, even though his hearts not in it. This is mirrored in the pathetic stunts he pulls to get people to sin, by the end of the movie we almost feel sorry for this victim of heavenly injustice. It is this unique twist in the God Devil relationship that proves to be a real winner in the comedy stakes, it's a pity a bit more couldn't have been made of it.
Bedazzled is a solid comedy packed with some very inventive ideas. Ok so not all of these ideas pay off but thanks to the fantastic central paring of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore many of them do. The central paring aside Eleanor Bron seems neither talented enough nor attractive enough to play the love interest, but her lack luster performance is in a small way countered by excellent cameos from Raquel Welch as Lust and Barry Humphries as Envy. Visually the film's sixties trappings may now seen as old fashioned, but the jokes about the eternal struggle of good verses evil will never date. It is a shame that the linking segments couldn't have been longer and the wishes shorter but that doesn't ruin what is a very smart funny movie (no it was up to Hollywood to do that in the awful remake starry Liz Hurley and Brendan Frazer). Despite what would seem a number of gripes Bedazzled manages to be a very clever original and humorous film and one that I would recommend to both saints and sinners.
George Spiggott: You see God is omipresent, he's everywhere.
Stanley Moon: Aren't you?
George Spiggott: No, I'm just highly manuoverable.
George Spiggott: You fill me with inertia.
George Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you has been a lie. Including that.
Stanley Moon: Including what?
George Spiggott: That everything I've ever told has been a lie. That's not true.
Stanley Moon: I don't know what to believe.
George Spiggott: Not me, believe me!