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dir-scr James Hacking
prd J Alan Davis, James Hacking, Simone Ling, Duncan Napier-Bell, Nicholas Napier-Bell
with Dougray Scott, Claire Forlani, Michelle Ryan, Simon Callow, Lee Boardman, Matthew Clancy, Holly Gibbs, Peter Bowles, Simon Hepworth, Cherie Lunghi, Celia Henebury, Gordon Ramsay
release US 7.Jun.11, UK 24.Jun.11
11/UK 1h33 ***
No ordinary trifle: Scott and Forlani
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
As light as a souffle, this fluffy British comedy fades from the memory even as you're watching it. But as a bit of undemanding entertainment, it hits the spot. Even if it leaves you hungry for something more substantial.
After his wife dies, rising-star chef Rob (Scott) lets his career slide. His celebrity friend Gordon Ramsay urges him to get back in the game, as does his preteen daughter (Gibbs). So he buys the country pub his wife had her eye on and sets out to turn it into a home for honest British cuisine, including his signature trifle. The disgruntled village is also home to snooty-sexy American food critic Kate (Forlani), whose wannabe suitor, swishy landowner James (Hepworth), sets out to sabotage the pub. And then drunken TV critic Guy (Callow) pays a visit.
The script is fairly simplistic and goofy, like the pilot for a wacky British sitcom. But it has a disarming scruffiness that makes it enjoyable silly. Most of the performances are light and engaging, even though everyone hams it up now and then to punch the comedy just a bit too hard. This of course never works, leaving the film feel humorous without ever being truly funny. But the loose interaction holds our interest.
There's also the fact that the plot has a traditional romantic-comedy structure. No matter how much Rob and Kate (half-heartedly) bicker, we know that they will create beautiful food together. Stir in Kate's father (Bowles), who wants peace in the village again. He becomes the perfunctory villain in James' ludicrous caper subplot. And there are also a few diverting but distracting sideroads involving Rob's team (Ryan, Boardman and Clancy).
The problem is that none of this is particularly well-done. At least the actors are all likeable on screen, developing a believable sense of chemistry while clearly having a lot of fun, some of which is infectious. This manages to keep us smiling all the way through. And the setting is beautiful, while the food looks delicious. Actually, if this was a sitcom, it could be quite entertaining, as long as a bit more effort was put into spicing up the screenplay.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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