Discussion Of A Rubbish Movie, As Seen On TV
There are 3 reasons I watched this film.
1. I’m a London boy, born and bred, and hoped this would be a valentine to it, like Manhattan was from Woody Allen.
2. I think Stephen Fry is a genius.
3. Jack Dee is a very funny man, and I saw him at the top floor of Bristol University Union in 1989 with about 12 other people, before he became famous.
For these simple reasons, I was punished with cruel, mental torture. This is very unfair, and Mike Binder now owes me 90 minutes of my life back. Mike Binder: have you heard of him? I haven’t, and yet he wrote and directed this supposedly romantic comedy AND persuaded two of my comedy heroes to appear in it. How he did this is perhaps more baffling a mystery than why anyone gave him money to make this film.
Mike Binder unfortunately thinks he is Woody Allen for the new millennium. Woody Allen is still the Woody Allen for the new millennium, only it’s getting a bit creepy when he gets off with beautiful young women now. In fact, Woody’s serious films are funnier than Londinium. Riffing off Allen’s work shamelessly, Binder is a sit-com writer who moves to London to work on a popular sit-com with an American star. The plot of the film is the love quadrangle between him, the American star (Mariel Hemmingway), her producer husband (Colin Firth) and their French author friend who becomes Binder’s wife (Irene Jacob).
That’s all you really have to know. Any more information would be unnecessary and a waste of a brain cell. Everything about this film is quite awful. The script, which is supposed to be a comedy, is not funny. The romance is trite. The music used is twee and annoying, jingling along in a jolly fashion completely at odds with the sound of modern London. This throwback view of London is shared by Binder’s filming of the beautiful city itself. Everyone lives in quiet roads, in wonderful, roomy old houses, travels everywhere by taxi and all the tourists sites are visited like a travelogue from the 1950s. None of the bustle, the colour, the vibrancy, the immediacy of one of the greatest cities in the world is here, which makes it even more insulting that he called the film Londinium, especially as it was known as Four Play in other countries.
What I can’t understand is why Stephen Fry and Jack Dee agreed to make this film. They have been in the comedy business for many years now, so they have a feel for what is funny and what is rubbish. Not that they are bad; they both perform well, without stretching their acting abilities, with Jack playing a disgruntled sitcom writer not a million miles away from his own stand-up persona, and Stephen playing a very nervous English sort, not perhaps phoning it in but maybe faxing or emailing it. But why do it at all? Where they bribed? Were they top of the cast wish list and felt flattered? Did it not take up much time and they thought it would add to their CVs? Did they do it on a bet or a dare? All I know is their presence in this film made me take note of it, despite the fact that it was shown after midnight on ITV during the middle of the week.