Set in the 1930s, an American with a scandalous reputation on both sides of the Atlantic must do an about-face in order to win back the woman of his dreams.Set in the 1930s, an American with a scandalous reputation on both sides of the Atlantic must do an about-face in order to win back the woman of his dreams.Set in the 1930s, an American with a scandalous reputation on both sides of the Atlantic must do an about-face in order to win back the woman of his dreams.
This is the fourth filmed version of P. G. Wodehouse's comic novel of the same name. It was filmed in 1919 (directed by Wesley Ruggles, younger brother of the actor Charlie Ruggles) and in 1936 (directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Robert Montgomery), both times under its correct title. It was next filmed under the title THE GIRL ON THE BOAT (1961), directed by Henry Kaplan, and featuring the famous comedian Norman Wisdom as well as Millicent Martin, Richard Briers, and others of note. And then for this production of 2005, they went back to the original title again. 'Piccadilly Jim' is a wild young man who is the main character, and should be played by somebody truly extraordinary. Unfortunately, here he is played by a somewhat colourless actor who is about as interesting as a crushed toadstool, Sam Rockwell. However, the other performers do their best to 'act around him' and cover up the vacuum of his performance with their own energetic, and often hysterical performances. Tom Wilkinson is a steadying factor, good dependable Tom who can never let anyone down, including his son in this film, played by the nonentity aforementioned. The script by Julian Fellowes, the approach, the director, the design, all conspire in unison to leave the true Edwardian Age behind and enter into an overt fantasy-Edwardian Age for younger audiences who never knew any real Edwardians and might not realize just how hilarious every word that Wodehouse ever wrote really was. For those of us who knew genuine Edwardians (not to mention not a few surviving ancient Victorians as well), the fun of Wodehouse is the way he mocks, taunts, and teases the authentic types of the period by depicting them as the most outrageous caricatures imaginable. And as everyone knows, a good caricature only works if it closely resembles its subject. This film does not closely resemble anything that ever really existed, and was not planned to do so. I personally prefer the Wodehouse adaptations which affectionately and outrageously distort the truth, as opposed to this approach, which is to forget satire altogether and invent a wholly new truth where it is comedy rather than satire that is really the aim. For authentic vintage Wodehouse, one should see the three successive TV series called WODEHOUSE PLAYHOUSE, starring the amazing John Alderton, from the 1970s. Here it must be said that the design, the costumes, the look, are all simply dazzling. Taken in its own right, and forgetting its origins, this film is a tour de force of over-the-top but certainly scintillating fantasy. It takes the word 'camp' and raises it to a higher power. It is also great fun. But it is strictly for non-Purists only. I suppose that makes me impure.
- Sep 26, 2013
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