Monday, 22 June 2009

A Bunch Of Amateurs: Movie Review

A Bunch Of Amateurs: Movie Review

Rating: 3/10
Cast: Burt Reynolds, Samantha Bond, Derek Jacobi, Imelda Staunton
Director: Andy Cadiff
Lauded as a personal favourite of the Queen and Prince Phillip after the Royal Film Performance in December, A Bunch Of Amateurs is the tale of fading star Jefferson Steel (Burt Reynolds)
Steel is the hero of the Ultimate Finality action blockbusters - but who is looking for his next challenge.
Thanks to the awfulness (and downright idiocy) of his agent (Charles Durning), Steel accepts a part as King Lear in Stratford.
Sounds fine - but what the agent neglects to tell Steel is that the Stratford in question, is not the venue beloved of the Bard, but rather a sleepy backwater in England and with a bunch of am dram actors.
It's about as far away from the Royal Shakespeare Company as Steel could get.
Sadly A Bunch Of Amateurs is also about as far away from funny as you can get.
Co-written by Ian Hislop (a respected UK satirist), I'm sorry to say this is beyond dire in places - Reynolds is wooden in the role and I'm not sure whether that was intentional or otherwise.
Some of the jokes should never have made it off the page - Steel is mis-recognised as Sean Connery and Tom Selleck in a couple of scenes. Granted these jokes may have seemed funny on the page but somewhere in translation they didn't cross over onto the screen.
At best portions of this would have made a made for television movie or sitcom (which would have ultimately been axed)- and nothing more.
Every Hollywood stereotype of an actor heading back to the stage is exploited - Reynolds' ego allows him to mistake a camera being used for construction purposes as a moment of paparazzi stalking.
Granted that could be a cunning statement on the vanity of Hollywood actors taken out of their big star habitat - but in this film, it simply comes across as lazy and unfunny as well as deeply unoriginal.
There is also an entirely predictable sub plot about Steel's troubled relationship with his daughter, which is you won't be shocked to learn, resolved.
If you call a film A Bunch of Amateurs, you are asking for trouble from a reviewer.
Maybe I should be more constructive in my criticism rather than taking easy pot shots at this film.
Perhaps the biggest crime of this film is the squandering of the talent involved - to see Imelda Staunton over-acting in a way which would be better suited to a Carry On movie. And I can't even begin to understand how Derek Jacobi (respected veteran of the RSC) decided it was a good idea to get involved with this.
However, the only actor who emerges with some level of dignity in tact is Samantha Bond - her director never loses the charm and she never descends into the kind of on-screen farce as that displayed by Imelda Staunton.

A Bunch Of Amateurs screams (bad) TV sitcom - it should never have made it to the big screen.

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