Viking Night: Bedazzled
By Bruce Hall
January 19, 2016
Depending on your age, when I use the word “Bedazzled”, you most likely envision one or more of the following things:
- An annoying puzzle game that ran away with your girlfriend back in 2003
- An obnoxious fashion trend that involved covering otherwise unremarkable garments with costume jewelry; made Etsy a household name before the site was taken over by latent psychotics and amateur
- An underwhelming remake starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley that came and went like an ice cream headache
- An underrated film classic starring comedy icons Dudley Moore and Peter Cook
Which one do you think I’m going to write about? Here’s a hint: If you just said “Who’s Dudley Moore?” or if you think Peter Cook played Darth Obstreperous in the last Star Wars film, then this article is for you. In fact, if you’re any of the above, this article is probably for you. If you think splattering an old jean jacket with fake rhinestones is some kind of an improvement, then you probably need some comedy in your life. And if you already appreciate Dudley Moore, maybe you can help me explain why Brendan Fraser - adorable pug that he is - is not a suitable replacement.
Moore and Cook had worked together in television and were not new to snarky, mildly intellectual satire. They were still kind of new to film, though, so most of the reason Bedazzled is so much fun is because it was made by two still super talented, still pretty young guys who were still on their game. Cook wrote the screenplay, Moore wrote the score, and even made actual hamburgers on screen. No effort was spared to convey realism, insofar as that’s possible when one of your main characters is the Devil.
What I’m saying is that I can’t summarily condemn the remake of Bedazzled, because the original itself is a remake of the legend of Faust - which I’m sure you remember from the scary old German lady who babysat you when you were seven. In this version, Stanley Moon (Moore) is contemplating suicide, because his life is going less than well. By that I mean that he’s a short order cook, which is the kind of job people can tell you had years after you quit, because you will smell like bacon fat until the day you die. But that’s actually the good part.
The bad part is that his dream woman Margaret (Eleanor Bron) works the tables and is only dimly aware of his existence. Stanley mopes and pouts and pines away, but can’t find it within himself to approach her. Clearly a man of faith, he sits in church and clumsily begs God for the strength to make a move on Margaret. Unfortunately, Stanley just can’t overcome the fact that he’s a huge dweeb. Eventually he decides that suicide is the only way out (which is a shame because between you and me, Margaret really ain’t all that), and tries to hang himself. And fails hilariously. But to his credit, he’s at least able to see the irony in that.