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Breaking the Bank


Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Tamsin Greig, Mathew Horne, John Michael Higgins, Julie Dray, Pearce Quigley, Sonya Cassidy, Danny Morgan, Andrew Sachs, Togo Igawa

Director: Vadim Jean

This is the kind of Great British Disaster you hoped had died the death three decades ago. 'Jokes' that fall flat, non-existent timing, and actors left to their own devices, producing strident, unnatural performances.

Bad pacing is only one aspect of poor direction, placing actors for seemingly the maximum embarrassment. The staging, in fact, is awkward and unconvincing throughout.

Poor Grammer, with a plummy English accent that hampers his performance. plays the bumbling head of a private bank that becomes subject to takeover bids from Japanese and American investors.

But the bank is £3 million in the red, a situation made much worse when jack-the-lad adviser Nick (Horne, offering the most teeth-gratingly bad of the film's many bad portrayals) gets Kelsey to invest millions (and his wife's pension plan) in Nurdlinger Gas, which promptly succumbs to an earthquake, putting Nick at the top and his employer preparing to jump into the Thames, until he meets homeless Oscar, who...but no, I can't go on.

The film, however, does go on, for an unconscionable, unforgivable 105 minutes, adding insult to injury. Sample humour: 'Have I become a dinosaur?' asks Grammer. Retorts his wife (Greig): 'I hope you're not thinking of opening Jurassic Park.'

The film does have one smart line - bewildered accountant Graham (Morgan), surveying the latest books, bewails that 'there's nothing right on the left, and nothing left on the right' - but also a joke about Nelson Mandela so appallingly crass that it makes Seth Rogen's films look like models of tact.

And the American 'shark' (Higgins, probably wishing he was back in Pitch Perfect films) is said to have 79% of the bank's shares, but needs 90% for total control. What kind of accountants does he have? It's all stunningly, unbelievably bad.

David Quinlan

UK 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour (unspecified).
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

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

Review date: 01 Jun 2016