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  • I saw this twice today on DVD and loved it. Of course, it's pure fantasy and I wish it had really been shot in one of Suffolk's Stratfords, though the Isle of Man serves well enough. Burt Reynolds does grumpy very well and, as ever, isn't afraid to send himself up - and nor is the great Derek Jacobi as his bitchy rival. I thought Imelda Staunton's turn as his adoring, then disillusioned fan overdone, but Samantha Bond is a tour de force as his less enchanted director. The build-up to the storm scene is ingenious and when he gets out of his vehicle Reynolds shows that he can cut the mustard as Lear. Of course, the other members of the Stratford Theatre Company are improbably good actors, but I shan't complain. The final twist is an extra treat. What a shame only Her Majesty seems to have seen the film in the cinema
  • After reading some of the other reviews I wonder what you expect from a nice little English movie. Burt Reynolds was great, but Imelda Staunton was exceptional. She was hilarious in all her scenes and we laughed out loud. It's very British set in a very British setting.

    If you liked Calendar Girls you'll like this. It's not great art, just great entertainment with a really good British cast, and an ageing but nevertheless very entertaining Burt Reynolds. Burt Reynolds who I must admit I did not think could act was quite good throughout and delivered his Shakespeare well. If there was one criticism it would be the scenes in the US were not brilliantly shot
  • haythalk21 December 2008
    I'm a Burt Reynolds fan - there i have admitted it! Anyway, to see a film of his get a theatrical release made this a must see film for me...and i wasn't disappointed. No need to go over the plot but all the performances in the film are excellent and Burt is the best he has been for years..in fact since Boogie Nights in my opinion. Like the other comments, there were no really laugh out loud moments but just a nice stream of funny,well acted and moving moments. The scene at the start were Jefferson Steele was watching an old home movie of his daughter was moving,well acted by Burt.

    He obviously was quite happy to send himself as the has-been star (so appropriate) but still with a lot to prove. Despite all the bad plastic surgery he has had, he didn't look too bad in this film..and that in itself made me pleased.

    So overall, this is charming,warm hearted film with some great performances. As for Burt, his best film in years, without any doubt. He is obviously still a great actor, with tremendous screen prescence and is rightly hailed as Hollywood legend. I just hope we see more of Burt in films of this quality.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First off, i'm a big fan of Burt Reynolds (and his movies) and i was amazed to see (that after what seems like an eternity of DTV movies) he's finally back on the big screen (were he belongs) Reynolds plays a has-been action movie star, who simply can't get any decent roles. Upon threatening his shrewd agent (Charles Durning) that either he be found a good acting project, or be fired...Reynolds is given a dream chance of playing 'King Lear' in England. Reynolds hops on a plane to the UK, expecting to be pampered and working with the likes of Dame Judi Dench....only to find that, he's not in Stratford upon Avon....just plain Stratford (in Suffolk) with an amateur group of would-be thespians. What then follows is the usual 'fish out of water' gags, of a 'Yank in the UK'....and slowly but surely, Reynolds forms a bond with the group (who had once been skeptical about)

    As a fan of Reynolds, i could watch him in anything, but i will admit, that the movie could have been funnier (although i did howl with laughter at a few of Burt's foul-mouthed retorts to the earnest thespians) There's no real huge 'laugh-out' moments in the movie, but it does leave you with a big smile afterwards. The rest of the cast are good too (with a special nod to Derek Jacobi, sending himself up, just a little) Charles Durning (Burt's usual sidekick) has a small role as his bankrupt agent/manager (He does look very frail throughout the movie though, but still occasionally has that 'twinkle' in his eye)

    All in all, A BUNCH OF AMETUERS won't win any awards for originality (but it did receive a 'royal premier' in the UK last month) but it IS a warm feel-good movie, that should hopefully put Reynolds in good favour with projects more worthy of his talents....I hope?
  • I don't go to the movies very often - in fact I can't remember the last time - but this was on offer and I'm very glad that I took it up. I have always liked Burt Reynolds, particularly Evening Shade, and I adore Charles Durning, so I squeaked a bit when the names came up at the start. It's a gentle mickey-take of English village life, English country types and the ageing movie start grasping at straws to redeem himself before it's too late. Beautifully shot - I don't care where - in British Countryside with cottages to die for, clear complexions and charming pigs, it is funny, engaging (by the yardstick I judge any film or programme - do I care if they all live or die; the answer in this case, is obviously "yes"). The characters are all wonderfully drawn and the story bowls along at a comfortable pace, witty, pretty and a damn good night's entertainment. I enjoyed an ice cream at the interval, but I shall buy it on DVD.
  • neil-47624 December 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    A Bunch Of Amateurs is an understated little gem. I do not suppose it will gain a wide release, but it deserves wider circulation than it will achieve.

    Burt Reynolds is Jefferson Steel, a fading star of big-budget but increasingly awful action movies. When the offers dry up he presses his agent (an ill-looking Charles Durning) to find him work. And when the offer comes to play King Lear on stage at Stratford, Steel is on the first trans-Atlantic flight. However, due to imperfect communication, he is appalled to discover that the production in question is taking place in a converted barn in the little village of Stratford (not -on-Avon) to save the local amateur theatre group from going under. Steel tries to escape but can't, and the initial culture clash between privileged, pampered Hollywood superstar on the one hand, and low key, frugal, rural England on the other, slowly begins to have its effect.

    Reynolds is fine, if a little unemotional, but the fun in this film comes from the rest of the cast, particularly from Imelda Staunton who is note-perfect playing the besotted landlady of the B&B where Steel stays.

    The story is slight, but the situation is inherently funny and the script ticks all the right boxes. There is an interesting plot development just past the halfway mark which runs in a slightly unexpected direction before the movie finishes up on course at the end. Thankfully it avoids moving into the romance which is threatened from time to time, although this can be read into what happens after the closing credits if you so wish.

    If I have one criticism - and it is a very mild one - it is that a village drama society featuring Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond is hardly A Bunch Of Amateurs!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What great fun this is. We laughed a great deal. I shall be buying it for sure. I'm mystified by someone's comment that "villages like this don't exist any more in England. Has that person ever been to England? Or if English, have they never been outside a city? Come on, live where we live and you'll see that village is pretty normal. We have plenty of villages where the village shop hasn't been closed down yet. Even supermarkets aren't perfect.

    I'd never seen Burt Reynolds in anything before that I can recall and I'd no idea he could be so entertaining - I had visualised him as a typical Hollywood beefcake in tough movies. Well now I'll look out for his movies, or at least any that aren't Hollywood formula thugs and car chases and the like. Nice to see Derek Jacobi, a fav. actor of mine, and how well he played petulance! Everyone else is the typical "characters" of any imaginary village - that doesn't make the real village behind the actors any less real! The guesthouse, oh dear, that bedroom is ghastly. I howled at the scene that got the American actor slung out of the guest house for fornication. It didn't need to be totally original, it was predictable, but it was so well acted that it was completely fresh.

    Nice to see pieces of Lear too, the Bard needs more "exposure" these days! How I laughed when the American complains that the "script" needs drastic cutting!
  • goffee26 June 2009
    Last DVD on the comedy shelf, it was either this or "18-year old virgin" or many things that weren't quite American Pie with Eugene Levy. This won, by default, and was actually a pretty decent laugh. Burt was a little unintelligible but the British cast all hit the spot and the scenery played its part. A little bit Local Hero meets Shakespeare in Love, sit back on a slow evening and let the film entertain you. It's all fairly predictable in pace but the writing is good and delivery effective. What's more important is something like this got made and provides an alternative to all those Eugene Levy movies! No offence, Mr. Levy
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After a pointed opening, first showing an almost empty theater complete with someyoungchick euuuuing "Gross! He could be her grandfather!" at the end scene (Reynald's actor character kissing someotheryoungchick) of Steele's last film, then going to a brokendown slummy playhouse to show Steele's daughter dressed in modern clothing sucking a cigarette while delivering woodenly lifeless lines from Austin's Pride and Prejudice before removing her shirt in order to show her breasts to an actor of another race (note the male audience member clearly there just to see that), the film moves into an understatedly amusing exploration of what it means to be an older actor in a realm that attempts to deny aging exists. Along the way we get some brilliantly funny moments (as when a passerby mistakes Steele for Sean Connery) and a nice sprinkling of other thematic analyses on a light hearted note (eg class, pretension, the changes wrought in character by fame and/or fortune, eccentricity and acceptance of it). As mentioned in other reviews, this is not a gutbuster laffaminit production; it's far too realistic for that. I personally dislike most of the comedy genre because, as a friend put it, (most of) what is considered funny involves a total lack of reality and/or utter stupidity. Those enjoying that sort of humor will probably like this for its comedic value, but we laughed aloud several times. On the whole, a very good movie, and much better than the majority of modern fare in its ability to tell a story without relying on utterly gratuitous sexual/gore splattering/vicious-and-malicious/physical violence scenes.
  • there's the feeling that this film was designed and constructed by a committee out of focus-group friendly but disconnected components; they then seemingly accidentally hired some great talent to do some of the work. The script is often funny and sharp, but frequently slumps into sentimentality. A lot of the acting is very good, but Burt Reynolds is mostly helpless: he can't act the part he has been given except for some of the calmer domestic comedy. Acting the part of an actor acting King Lear? No, he's lost. Most things are done very well, the photography and direction are fine and the music only really grates during the prolonged sentimental guff that spoils the flow of the film particularly in the middle and at the end. It's worth watching for some fine comic acting from the English part of the cast, and for some very professional filmmaking too. It's worth fast forwarding through some of the sentiment, and some of the American acting too.
  • A Film that i saw advertised never got to see,but came in the cinemas and went out again straight away.

    i found it for a fiver in tescos and thought why not, a good casting, reynolds as lear playing with a British tour de force.

    A wonderful i think piece of British cinema, some great one liners and reynolds doesn't steal the show, he shares it with the pigs and his sterilised hot tub and a wonderful cast who all admitted they were starstruck working with "burt reynolds".

    even the dog gets some great lines in my opinion watch it, its one of them little gems that i will go on about.

    with such trash in the last few year being made Indiana jones and the X files ripoff (thank god i didn't buy it or even cinema to view that ) around this film is a tonic to watch.one i can watch again and again i think.

    thank you "you bunch of amateurs".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A fun, low cost movie with a serious undertone portrayed in a light hearted manner - a classic example of what the UK does best putting story, humour and entertainment at the fore-front of the movie experience.

    Reynolds plays an archaic Hollywood movie star looking to resurrect his career, via an agent whose relationship with the bailiff leaves him with a telephone and chair from which to do his business.

    The star of the movie at the beginning of the show is a cheeky hound, munching through Reynold's boots. A few predictable Hollywood tantrums from the ageing movie star add to the ambiance of the movie - but the underpinning theme is one of grouping together under adverse and conflicting human forces.

    Not quite a 'four weddings' nor a 'Notting Hill' but a lovely movie to watch over the Christmas festivities.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film A Bunch of Amateurs, directed by Andy Cadiff, and staring Burt Reynolds was filmed in 2007 when Mr. Reynolds was 71 years old. The basic concept of using an aging action star to play an aging action star who steps outside of his formulaic career path to play Shakespeare's King Lear is the first clever idea in a series of clever ideas. Actually, Reynolds' character, Jefferson Steel is more than an aging star. He is a burned-out star, a has-been. He is tricked by his even more aged and broken down agent, played with gusto by Charles Durning, into thinking he will be playing in an important venue in England in the hometown of William Shakespeare surrounded by mobs of adoring fans. Instead he is in a small town community theater production being put on by a dedicated group of amateurs who are just trying to keep their theater from sinking into oblivion. Steel is the only big name they can afford, but if they can draw in a decent crowd, and with the support of a local brewer, they hope they just might make it. There are many parallels between the story of Lear and the story of Jefferson Steel. The character of Lear is old and delusional, Steel is fast approaching that same state, and the theater in which it all takes place is old and decrepit. Lear has daughter problems, and so does Steel. Steel has a hard time shifting from being a Hollywood star to doing legitimate theater in the middle of "a bunch of amateurs." He expects to be catered to and treated like royalty, just as Lear does after he has given up the throne. At one point he says he doesn't think he will be able to do the mad scene on the heath, and ultimately he winds up doing the scene for real as his world collapses around him. It's a fairly low budget production and the seams tend to show a bit, but it does have a lot of good stuff in it, and it has an excellent supporting cast. Anything with Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Charles Durning in it has got to be worth watching. The final resolution of the difficulties with the theater and Steel's relationship with his daughter is kind of easy to see coming, but as I said, it's worth watching. The biggest weakness is Burt Reynolds' performance. The character he plays is supposed to be aging and out of touch, but I could not help but wonder at times how much of it was acting and how much real. Maybe Reynolds is that good of an actor, but there were parts of the film where I felt uncomfortable watching him stumble around not seeming to be quite in touch with the camera. He does ultimately deliver a good Lear although I was reminded of when Lawrence Olivier did Othello. He asked Orson Welles if he had any advice on how to do the part. Welles said, don't do it. Othello is a natural baritone while Olivier was a natural tenor. With an incredible amount of hard work, Olivier transformed himself into a baritone. It's the same thing here. Lear is a baritone, and Reynolds is a tenor, but he never makes the transformation. If you like this film, you might also like a film called A Midwinter's Tale (1995). It's the same idea, a group of actors trying to put on a Shakespeare play against seemingly insurmountable odds.
  • As someone thoroughly immersed in am dram and in particular Shakespeare I found this film thoroughly entertaining. I must admit that having loved Burt Reynolds in the good old days when he was in Riverboat on TV, I did a double take when I saw his very odd plastic surgery face, that could hardly register an expression. When I got over that, the usual suspects of English cinema conveyed all the bitchiness and ideas of grandeur of a typical am dram society. I particularly liked the reference to the fact that they all acted for no money or fame and held down daytime jobs. I am afraid that Burt's delivery of Lear left a lot to be desired and as my husband is about to direct King Lear we had to laugh as Imelda Staunton( good as she was) as one of Lear's daughters until I pointed out his actress in the part was about the same age. A problem that occurs in most am drams is that the people in them are too old for the parts. Imelda was very funny and Derek Jacobi sending himself up was a scream too. Not a great film but an amusing, small English film and much better than a lot of other small English films I have seen
  • This is very much a Hollywood version of England - a very romantic English village - with village green, small shops that people use, a wonderful church, and all is well - it is just a little too unrealistic- this England doesn't exist anymore, anywhere, but let that slide for a moment - fake nostalgia is OK.

    The whole premise of the movie is this: aging American action hero runs out of offers so ends up taking what he thinks is Shakespeare at Stratford, but well, it's not that Stratford.

    My real issue with this was that Burt Reynolds is meant to discover some humanity and acting ability by the end - but honestly....

    Worth watching is there's nothing else on - it has a small but certain charm - it is saved by an excellent support cast and it's overall tone - but it is like watching a slice of the 50s - and though that may seem like the perfect recommendation here it all falls somewhat flat...

    Overall, watchable but a mere speck of what it could have been with the right actor in the lead.
  • My wife hit it on the head by saying it was really a TV film and like Midsomer Murders without the Murders!

    That's all I really wanted to say except that the performances were generally good and Burt Reynolds wig was excellent and looked almost real. I'm now trying to make this up to ten lines but don't really have that much to say and wish that short, pertinent comments were allowed. Oh I've just remembered that Suffolk suddenly had hills, moved presumably from the Isle of Man so that the film had a tax subsidy. I'm really struggling now to say anything else but I would like these comments to be seen by filmgoers. Phew
  • Prismark108 April 2015
    There is nothing really original in the story. A film dealing with the production of a play with a Prima Donna star. We had something similar with the Dustin Hoffman directed Quartet in 2012.

    Despite listing Ian Hislop as a co-writer it's also not very biting. Instead it is a run of the mill slightly amusing movie with hardly any laugh out loud moments and relies on the charm of its cast.

    Burt Reynolds plays an over the hill action star whose equally has been agent (a frail Charles Durning) sets him up for King Lear for an amateur drama company who want to raise funds to keep going and hey ho Reynolds is on his way to England and a jaunt in the country for he thinks he will be doing Shakespeare in Stratford, but its the small village of Stratford.

    So now you have a big celebrity in a small village reluctantly taking part and struggling with Shakespeare. The locals do their best to make him feel pampered and he feels like a fish out of water with not even a decent mobile phone signal.

    Samantha Bond, Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi are all in hand to rise above a mundane script. You can tell that even on third gear Jacobi has nailed his Shakespearean text while even though in a well shot scene in the howling rain at night, Reynolds gamely recites Lear but its still mangled.

    Its not bad but it should had been a lot better. Reynolds has enough class to keep it all together, the subplot involving Reynolds daughter just did not work for me but the film is easy going just like its main star.
  • cekadah5 January 2013
    each actor has the charm of a burnt match stick and the entire movie looks like some grade B second class Hollywood movie studio film from the 1930's - story and all.

    just awful plot from start to finish! cheap melodrama brought to you with completely lifeless acting. a department store mannequin with a script card could have done as well. mr reynolds and fellow cast members just sleepwalk through the entire story and the big hospital drama is just laughable.

    this movie (for me) was so bad at the start it became a challenge to see how much more bad it could get ---- it does! so if you are looking for a movie to laff at because it's just plain 'stoopid' this is your movie!
  • there were moments that i couldn't help smiled or laughed lightly. the screenplay was quite dramatic, the casting did a very nice job except signed up burt reynolds who actually performed quite poorly when he was doing the rehearsals and played king lear on the stage. he actually became the weakest part of this comedy. fooled him to stradford to play the role was a disastrous arrangement just like chosen him as that character. he performed so poorly on those stage scenes, this was his worst performance ever! and i have to discredit one of the viewers who claimed it's his best performance. it's watchable but not too good just because reynolds' lukewarm, absent-minded and out-of-placed poor performance; if this role recruited michael caine to play, it would be much better. i rest my case.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At one point in Shakespeare's King Lear the eponymous character is moved to address the deities thus: you see me hear, you Gods, a poor old man, as full of grief as age, wretched in both. This isn't that far off the mark in describing the film a sort of Midsomer Murders as in I died in Midsomer (Stratford, Suffolk) the age would describe the plot which was pushing seventy when Beowulf was a hot ticket, the grief, the misguided decision to fund something like this. It's watchable and it will pass the time if there isn't a Frank Randle retrospective you could be at instead. Just as in what passes for a plot the name of Burt Reynolds will attract a certain percentage of die-hard fans and because they are die-hard fans they'll go away happy. Anyone else will go away looking for a new Bruce Willis entry.