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Stars: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci, Togo Igawa, Anna Skellern, Cloris Leachman

Director: Michael Hoffman

There are flashes of good stuff in this revamp of the old Michael Caine-Shirley MacLaine comedy-thriller, but too many occasions when the writers (Joel and Ethan Coen, of all people) ask the actors to work too hard, with the cast responding accordingly.

Following animated credits which would be more amusing at the end, when we would have more idea of what they're about, the first reel is wildly overacted by all concerned, so it's something of a relief to realise that it's how the central 'sting' would be ideally imagined by Harry (Firth, complete with Caine glasses). Harry's an art curator who, with the help of his comrade 'The Major' (Courtenay), an ace art forger, plans to foist a fake Monet on his hated boss (Rickman) and make off with 11 million pounds.

To achieve this, and for reasons the script is not at particular pains to explain, he enlists Texas rodeo roper PJ (Diaz - MacLaine she ain't, although, to be fair, the script doesn't ask her to be) who will 'discover' the aforesaid Monet on the wall of her trailer (cue cameo by Leachman as her harridan trash momma).

Things appear to be going awry when Rickman plans not only to romance Diaz, but also to appoint the flamboyant art expert Tucci in the soon-to-be-sacked Firth's place. But all, as is the way of these things, is not quite as it seems...

How a lion and several Japanese businessman get in on the act is also part of this rather ragged romp. Firth, assured in clever comedy, is all at sea with the farcical bits of the scenario, although losing his trousers with a will and exclaiming 'This is absurd!' - which it patently is.

David Quinlan

UK/USA 2012. UK Distributor: Momentum. Technicolor.
89 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Nov 2012