Picks and Pans Review: The Favor, the Watch and the Very Big Fish
As cumbersome, ill-focused and ultimately unfunny as its title, this British comedy has all the impudent tone and erratic rhythms of a Monty Python sketch without the Python wit.
It also resembles (and compares unfavorably to) the 1990 film The Tall Guy, in which Goldblum appeared as an expatriate American actor. Here he is a phlegmatic cabaret piano player in Paris who encounters Hoskins, a photographer of religious scenes, just when Hoskins (Shattered) is looking for a Jesus for a series of posters he has been commissioned to do.
Goldblum, with his haunted, emaciated look, makes for a perfect Messiah, and Hoskins turns him into a star model. Meanwhile all sorts of slapsticky mayhem is breaking loose, including Hoskins' sister, Angela (Stealing Heaven) Pleasence, serving him a dinner of the title fish, which she has prepared by stuffing through a meat grinding—type device and putting the results on a plate, garnished with a lemon wedge.
A romantic triangle also develops among Goldblum, Hoskins and Natasha (The Comfort of Strangers) Richardson. The latter plays an aspiring actress who brings Hoskins and Goldblum together. The relationship unfurls rather tediously, however. Writer-director Ben (Georgia) Lewin even has Hoskins say, "Women! You can't live with them, and you can't live with out them."
The romance was more fun in The Tall Guy. The Jesus element was more clever in Denys Arcand's 1990 Jesus of Montreal. And it doesn't take 15 minutes to say either of those titles. (R)