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Bunch of Amateurs, A


Stars: Burt Reynolds, Samantha Bond, Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Price, Charles Durning, Ty Davies, Richard James, Gemma Lawrence

Director: Andy Cadiff

The spirit of vintage Ealing, albeit effectively modernized to cater for today’s much more lax mores to generate the tabloid newspaper headline “Hollywood has-been and Brewer’s wife in Saucy Sussex Sex Romp” (a line surely the creation of screenwriting team Ian ‘Have I Got News for You’ Hislop and Nick Newman) infuses this genial British comedy (this year’s Royal Film Performance film).

Simple story, smartly told. Washed-up Hollywood action star Reynolds believes his career might just take off again when his bungling agent Durning gets him the role of King Lear at Stratford. Not quite – Reynolds finds himself trapped in an amateur village production in the Suffolk village of Stratford rather than treading the boards with the RSC at Stratford upon Avon…

Before long, Reynolds is caught up in various village shenanigans, arousing lust in some and, in the case of luvvie rampant Jacobi, envy and bitchery and doing to the Bard what Saddam Hussein did to Kuwait. Reynolds works hard valiantly sending himself (or, rather, his formerly macho screen image) up but is effortlessly upstaged by a splendid British cast, notably Samantha Bond and Imelda Staunton. It’s by no means a landmark British film but providing you’re in the mood for easy-going entertainment, complete with an imported American star in the great tradition of British second features, put over with considerable enthusiasm by all concerned, it's good if ultimately forgettable. (And also demonstrably fit for a Queen)

Alan Frank

UK 2008. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
96 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

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

Review date: 17 Dec 2008