The very British art forger Major Wingate explains in one of his many voiceovers ‘an optimist is simply a man who hasn’t heard the news’ but I would suggest an optimist is a man who hasn’t seen Gambit (2012)! Because make no mistake this is nowhere near as good as the promise of a Coen Brothers script would have you believe, think more The Ladykillers (2004) than No Country for Old Men (2007) if you get my drift.
|Harry Deane and Lionel Shabander|
This is the remake of the 1966 film of the same name originally directed by Ronald Neame and starring Michael Caine, Shirley Maclaine and the late great Herbert Lom. The idea for this remake has been about for around 15 years with various line-ups of cast and crew ending up with Michael Hoffman in the directorial chair. It was Hoffman who directed The Last Station (2009) an interesting film about the final months of Leo Tolstoy’s life which starred Christopher Plummer as the Russian scribe and Helen Mirren as his wife. Gambit 2012 stars Colin Firth as Harry Deane Art curator, a character that attempt’s to get laughs by constantly being punched in the face and being stranded half way up the outside of The Savoy Hotel in London without his trousers! Cameron Diaz, with a dreadful Texas drawl that really grates, plays cowgirl P J Puznowski. Also involved is Alan Rickman who must have been drunk, drugged or skint to have agreed to play the part of the arrogant media mogul Lionel Shabandar. The afore mentioned Major Wingate is played by Tom Courtney. The films plot involves Deane conning his abusive boss Shabandar into buying a fake Monet with the help of Major Wingate and the Texan rodeo queen Puznowski.
|Major Wingate and P J Puznowski.|
Although setting this remake in the 21st century Hoffman has attempted to remake it as a swinging sixties pastiche including animated credits, a Mancini style score and the obligatory glossy London setting. Stupidly I’m naive enough to think that something described as a lighthearted comedy would be at least amusing rather than just embarrassing. Sitting through this 90 minute ‘comedy’ with out so much as a titter let along an actual fully blown laugh raises the question of why remake a film that was not particularly well acclaimed in the first place?