Viewed – 23 June 2013 DVD
An interesting one, this… A remake of a 1966 comedy that starred Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine, boasts a screenplay by none other than Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit, Fargo, The Big Lebowski) and this time stars everyone’s favorite Englishman, Colin Firth. Firth plays Harry Deane, an art curator who is planning on double-crossing his mean spirited boss (Alan Rickman) by conning him into buying a forgery of a Monet painting. Roped into Harry’s nefarious scheme is Texan cowgirl PJ (Cameron Diaz).
I am not familiar with the original movie, but this was a fast, funny and sharp caper comedy in the style of 50s / 60s British movies like The Italian Job. Firth is perfectly cast despite being obviously stereotyped, and Rickman is clearly having a ball as his pantomime villain boss. Less effective is Diaz, seemingly wasted as a cartoon-like cowgirl with a grating Texan accent and zero depth. The script, showcasing the Coen’s brand of oddball characters and snappy dialogue zipped by at a good pace though, with all three leads proving fun. For this kind of material, over familiarity reared it’s head from time to time and for a Coen’s script, the comedy whilst effective, seemed a touch too farcical for such talents.
The real problem here though, is that both as a remake and as a British comedy (whoever may have written it) it just offered too few surprises, and I would have liked something a little more complex and clever. Yet still see it if you like the cast and want an undemanding, but enjoyable evening’s viewing – just don’t go expecting anything fresh, new or particularly imaginative.
Verdict: 3 /5
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- Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- DVD of the Week: “The Big Lebowski” (newyorker.com)