It was a week for mixed messages at the movies: The tempted-by-Satan comedy Bedazzled had some good points to make about the devil, but some lousy points to make about redemption. Pay It Forward, a drama about starting a "chain letter" of good deeds, also drew criticism for implying that humankind can save itself, but was highly praised for endorsing compassion.

What's Hot In Bedazzled, the devil (Elizabeth Hurley) buys the soul of Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) for seven wishes, which Elliot uses to try to become the dream guy for his dream girl. The wishes, of course, go humorously awry, since the devil is a master of trickery and duplicity. "Hidden in this film are some remarkable (and no doubt inadvertent) truths about the nature of Satan," says Curtis D. Smith, guest reviewer for Christian Spotlight. "Over and over we witness deception, lies, unfulfilled promises of satisfaction and arrogance on the part of Hurley's character, the father of lies." Movie Reporter Phil Boatwright agrees, saying "this rendition of the classic tale of Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles reminds viewers of Satan's seductive offers, and how they come at a price." Boatwright also praises the film's comic touches. "When Elizabeth Hurley ... confirms that God exists and that he is a man, she adds, 'Most men think they are God. This one just happens to be right.' Well, I nearly doubled over. It was a great line and a pitch-perfect delivery." But the U.S. Catholic Conference wasn't rib-tickled, calling it a "tiresome film [that] emphasizes makeup and costuming more than humorous substance." Steven Isaac of Focus on the Family attacks the theology, too, saying the spiritual truths are outweighed by the misconceptions. "On closer inspection," ...

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