THE LOVE PUNCH REVIEW

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I loved the cast. I just wish the gags had more of a punch.

It’s OTT, corny and absolutely ridiculous but fun enough with the odd laugh (BUT not as much as I hoped). However, one thing that this film does prove is that talented actors can make mediocre material much much more watchable.

Critically it’s a bit of a mess but for a cheap movie night, it’s worth a gander. So what’s it about? A divorced couple scheme to recover their stolen retirement money from a ruthless French businessman.

The opening chugged along as Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility/Nanny McPhee) and Pierce Brosnan (007! Come on!) snapped and griped at each other. Desperately trying to keep up appearances for their friends; the hilarious Celia Imrie (Calendar Girls/The Borrowers) and Timothy Spall (The Harry Potter franchise).

Brosnan and Thompson were a great pairing. They had good chemistry and you could tell they were having a laugh. Their bickering was certainly relatable and ticked all the boxes for any couple.

The realisation when their last child has flew the coop tied in with having to start all over again in their fifties was an interesting premise in itself. But that is soon thrown out of the window with a crazy crime caper that predictably reignites old flames and passions. Hardly a spoiler. It’s just that sort of film.

The supporting cast was a little disappointing. Tuppence Middleton’s (Tortured/Long Way Down) part was very flat and, to be honest, needless. Especially when some of the better jokes and screen time was spent on their interaction with their son Matt (Jack Wilkinson). An ongoing joke with a Skype conversation was actually quite funny. Great to see Ellen Thomas (Adoha from Rev) as Brosnan’s secretary. Kept expecting her to say “Hello Vicar!”. She manages to make a memorable impression in her two minute cameo. Shame.

The gag rate is very hit and miss. Spall and Imrie do deliver some of the better one liners from Spall’s random ex-war veteran tales to Imrie trying to handle a gun, “Hands up Melon Farmers”. The beautiful Louise Bourgoin was a stunner to boot but her character got incredibly annoying by the end.

Despite moving at an easygoing pace, the film does seem to run out of ideas and climaxes in sheer pandemonium. I mean this was never going to win plaudits for clever story telling but posing as American businessmen with the hope that maybe the slick French businessman Tom Morton (with a very mashed up accent) hadn’t met them before when he already had? Really?

It all gets rather silly and crashes into a ridiculous cheesy, predictable finale which downplays some of the more serious moments in which Brosnan and Thompson cross examine their relationship.

Without spoiling too much, there is a scene which perfectly shows what lies in store with this mad little movie. Both Brosnan and Thompson’s characters have allergies; Brosnan with cats and Thompson with flowers. They infiltrate a room which contains (what do you know) those very things.

The French landscape is shot beautifully. The content, well. At it’s best, a TV movie. But thankfully a well acted cast help The Love Punch get away with it. Almost reminiscent of the old sixties crime capers. Easy going, cheesy but dated.

A guilty pleasure if ever there was one.

2.5/5

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A LONG WAY DOWN REVIEW

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A little long at the tooth BUT a pleasant surprise. A well acted and cheesy little drama.

Four people meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives.

If you can get past the rather dark premise (which is delicately dealt with), this makes for good viewing. Inadvertently contemplating suicide at the same place. Four strangers decide to make a pact. A pact NOT to kill themselves before Valentine’s Day. A strange, unexpected BUT entertaining journey.

It’s a little corny and the schmaltz does overdo it in places BUT a perfectly chosen cast does just enough to keep things watchable. The surrogate family angle was a nice touch. Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) was brilliant as the over anxious Maureen. Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) who, at first was a little irritating, soon grew on me as the utterly bonkers Jess.

Ex-007 Pierce Brosnan played the neurotic disgraced celebrity Martin Sharp with aplomb. Sometimes his cocky demeanour and endless rambling did gripe against me in places BUT it made a change for the super spy. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) didn’t do a bad job as the mystery American pizza boy JJ.

The gang worked well together and you could tell in certain scenes that they were genuinely having a laugh. There was great chemistry between Paul and Poots. No wondered they were picked up for Need For Speed. BUT the rest of the supporting cast weren’t really used to their full potential.

Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) seemed to play a somewhat wasted role as the stereotypical toff and overbearing politician father. There was definitely a missed opportunity with him and Poots as the trouble making daughter. Their relationship was ripe for expansion and development but it was only brought up as things dipped in pace.

At least his character wasn’t as wafer thin as Rosamund Pike’s (Gone Girl). Anyone could have played her as the annoying morning news presenter. Merely a passing cameo. A plot device to create a rift among the group that was dealt with far too quickly.

The structure worked well. Flicking back and forth between the past and present. Allowing us to delve further into why each character was up on that tower. It did feel a little drawn out in parts. Disappointing considering the film was only 96 minutes. And the flashbacks, at times, didn’t really expand that much.

An intriguing prospect with Jess’ back story led no where. While Maureen’s story was very emotional and handled perfectly. You really felt for her. I was surprised at the bad rap this film got. BUT I haven’t read the Nick Hornby novel so I can’t make comparisons.

I was surprised this was adapted by Jack Thorne. From someone who wrote This Is England ’88, I did expect something a little darker. You could argue that there were missed opportunities and angles that the film could have explored. It wasn’t the strongest film to deal with this subject matter BUT it was still a well acted and easy going drama.

Corny, predictable but watchable.

3/5