One of the things that Harry Deane (played by Colin Firth) would really like to do is get one over on his abominable boss, Shabandar (by Alan Rickman). Harry’s an art curator and his boss, a supremely rich businessman, is an eccentric bully, fixated on having the best art collection in the world. Up until now, Harry has done everything he can to help Shabandar achieve this, but he’s getting a bit sick of just being the abused workhorse instead of the winner. Along with his trusted companion and art forger, The Major (by Tom Courtenay), Harry devises a scheme to finally achieve his goal and get the better of his appalling boss. Enter beautiful American cowgirl PJ Puznowski (by Cameron Diaz). She has an important role to play in the scheme and after some persuasion agrees to participate – for a fee, of course. So they put the plan into action. PJ flies to London from Texas and everything starts to play out. But – as if we couldn’t guess – things go a little off track for Harry and PJ has to survive on her wits to keep things going. Shabandar takes a shine to her, which works in PJ’s favour, but then she must decide whether the plan’s really worth pursuing. Harry and The Major suddenly see the whole thing teetering on the brink of failure – surely they can’t have come this far only to have to give up on the whole idea?
This movie is quite refreshing. The dry humour is entertaining and the sight gags that are littered all the way through are delightful. Colin Firth is in a different type of role here – it’s unusual to see him do such physical comedy. Also, it’s weird (but good for a change) to see him in a role where he’s quite downtrodden a lot of the time. He brings his best British upper class “Mark Darcy” charm and awkwardness to it which works really well. The screenplay is well written, with witty dialogue and amusing sub-plots. I guess it’s a bit predictable, but it’s still entertaining. As cowgirl PJ Puznowski, Cameron Diaz almost pushes the character too far, but she doesn’t. The performance is good. However, there are some gratuitous “partially clothed” scenes that feature her – there’s no doubt she looks great, but we don’t really need them. Alan Rickman is perfect as the awful, self-centred but sometimes charming Shabandar and it’s great to once again see Stanley Tucci – his role is relatively small, but it’s a worthwhile performance all the same. Cloris Leachman is in this for a short time also, that’s great as I haven’t seen her for ages. The movie is a remake of a 1966 version with Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine. It’s worth noting that this version was written by Joel and Ethan Coen – no wonder it has merit.
Made in 2012. Directed by Michael Hoffman.