Lucky Break (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/08/2001

Four stars out of five
Running time: 108 mins

Likeable British comedy that pushes all the right buttons thanks to a winning cast, some good gags and a side-splitting finale.

Peter Catteneo’s follow-up to The Full Monty is a likeable enough comedy that will inevitably suffer in comparison to the director’s previous hit – the fact that both films feature a group of men putting on a show of some kind won’t do him any favours either.

However, though it’s unlikely to equal Monty’s success at the box office, it succeeds well enough on its own terms, due in no small part to some smart casting and the detectable hand of Mr Stephen Fry.

James Nesbitt (familiar to ITV viewers as Adam from Cold Feet) stars as Jimmy Hands (allowing for lines such as "On your feet, Hands!") – an inept bank robber who gets nabbed, along with best mate and partner in crime Rudy (Lennie James) in the opening sequence.

Once inside, he discovers that the prison governor (Christopher Plummer) has a soft spot for musicals, and he plots to stage a production of the governor’s own self-penned musical opus, "Nelson" (lyrics by Stephen Fry), as a cover for an escape attempt.

To complicate things, however, he also falls in love with Annabel (Olivia Williams), the prison rehabilitation officer…

The strongest element that Lucky Break has going for it is its excellent cast. Nesbitt has an understated charm, combined with a subtle hint of menace that serves him well in certain scenes. Similarly James has made a career out of playing likeable supporting characters and he makes a good match with Nesbitt.

There’s also great support from the characters playing the other inmates, including Bill Nighy as upper-class twit Roger (some of Nighy’s facial expressions are comic gold). There’s also Timothy Spall as audience sympathy-magnet Cliff Gumbell (try saying that name without thinking of Barney from The Simpsons).

Similarly, Christopher Plummer gives an unexpectedly delightful performance as the sentimental and ever-so-slightly bonkers governor.

Catteneo has also been blessed with that rare commodity: genuine chemistry between his co-stars. This is largely down to the quality of Olivia Williams’ performance – she manages to do an awful lot with what is essentially an underwritten part. For example, she’s supposedly the only woman in the whole place, yet she’s practically ignored by the inmates as she walks freely about the prison.

Finally, the movie is worth seeing for the production itself, which is a splendidly camp affair and is responsible for the biggest laughs in the film ("Kiss him, Hardy!"). In fact, it’s so good that one is left hoping that Fry has actually written the whole thing out in full and has plans to stage it in the near future.

In short, then, Lucky Break is an enjoyable British comedy that delivers a little romance, a little tragedy and a lot of laughs.

Don’t go to it expecting a hit of Full Monty-sized proportions (no matter what the posters tell you) and you’ll enjoy it all the more. A decent family movie – recommended.

Film Trailer

Lucky Break (15)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 03:16

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