By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Profile: Yet another British movie about a bunch of lovable losers doing their pathetic best to get through hard times by employing desperate pluck and sitcom ingenuity to gain some pitiably small reward. Think The Full Monty meets Dunkirk meets Waking Ned Devine meets the Suez Canal meets Saving Grace meets the Falkland Islands.
Symptoms: Having sold off most of its castles and pride, Great Britain has now taken to pimping its national character—stiff upper lip and all that—in its movies. Greenfingers is yet another of these increasingly factory-like jobs—ironic, since there are no factory jobs left in Britain. It's all here: the put-upon yet proud leader, the crazy old coot (played by the crazy old coot from Ned Devine), the sweeping shots of English countryside and coastline that manage to mask the fact that most of it is owned by Arabs. And then, of course, none of these movies would be complete—or possible—without the hair-brained scheme: stripping (Monty), growing pot (Grace), ripping off the lottery (Devine), or, in Greenfingers' case, murderers entering a gardening competition. Apparently, today's Britain is nothing but one great big running episode of My Favorite Martian. What inevitably is turned out is a ham-fisted product devoid of anything true or even logical, the kind of cynical, prefabricated, disingenuous pile one normally expects to find in a John Stossel report, though not nearly as funny. Stossel. That guy's hilarious.
Diagnosis: "Hair-brained schemes" now rank just behind "living in the past" as top British exports.
Prescription: In Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh warned that charm would be the death of British culture, and I'd say a movie about flower-arranging double murderers being received by the queen for their exceptional work with wildflowers pretty much proves him right. I don't know what to tell you except resist this fatal urge to be cute. It killed Joey Heatherton, and it will be the death of your film industry. I have nothing against comedy. There's nothing like a good laugh. And this has nothing like one. That's because anyone with a brain is tired of this paint-by-numbers rut you've gotten into. Look, before you have to change your national anthem to the theme from Nanny and the Professor, you'd better start turning out movies that take a more honest look at Britain, a forlorn and comfortless place full of bitterness and David Frost. There's got to be more going on than just the same bunch of charming drunks repeating the same type of stupid behavior again and again. That's not art; that's the Kennedys.