Monday, October 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Tom Maurstad / The Dallas Morning News

Bedazzled is a lot of things you don't see coming out of Hollywood much anymore. It's thoroughly smart. It's consistently funny. It contains a few genuinely inspired moments. Rarest of all, Bedazzled is a remake (of the classic 1967 comedy starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) that actually features a few fresh ideas instead of just a big-budget, star-studded re-hash.

As in the original, Bedazzled is the Faustian tale of what happens when a working stiff, Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser), sells his soul to the devil for seven wishes. The most obvious updating of this Harold Ramis-directed remake is the sex-switching appearance of Elizabeth Hurley as Ms. Devil.

With each wish, Elliot tries to concoct the perfect life in which his true love, Alison (Frances O'Connor), will return his adoration. But as the super-sexy Satan, Ms. Hurley proves to be quite the tricky temptress.

As she struts her considerable stuff, Ms. Hurley makes the most of the five-pointed-star turn. The comic timing glimpsed in her Austin Power appearances is given center stage, and Ms. Hurley makes the most of it. Complementing her is Mr. Fraser, who turns in yet another assuredly comic performance – there's no one smarter at playing dumb.

Along the way to the lesson Elliot finally learns about being happy with himself, Bedazzled is filled with an abundance of cool costumes, funny jokes and clever observations. Mr. Ramis, who wrote the screenplay with his Analyze This partner Peter Tolan and Larry Gelbart, keeps things moving at a crisp clip, but always finds time for miscellaneous merriment, such as the hilarious fun the movie has with the idiotic prattle of sports announcers during Elliot's brief career as an NBA superstar.

Silly and sexy, Bedazzled is the pop culture equivalent of junk food. But at a time when most Hollywood fare seems to be freeze-dried, a little well-made junk food is a welcome treat.