Picks and Pans Review: The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

updated 08/28/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sat., Aug. 26, 9 p.m.)

Jazz is unpredictable. Sometimes you put together an all-star jam session and it just doesn't swing.

Judi Dench heads the cast of this British-made comedy, portraying a sax-playing widow determined to reunite her all-girl band from the World War II years. Well, almost all-girl. The drummer (Ian Holm) was an amorous male in Some Like It Hot drag, and now he's developing warm feelings for Dench. Other musical mates include Olympia Dukakis as the tippling trumpeter, Leslie Caron as the elegant bassist and Cleo Laine singing in her unmistakable style. But all this talent can't work the necessary wonders with a thin script that muses rather ineffectually about the thrilling atmosphere of wartime London (shown in flashbacks) and reduces Dench's adult children to clich├ęd squares, clucking tongues at her late-life frivolity. All that's really interesting is the potential romance between Dench and Holm, and the film winds up kissing that off.

Bottom Line: Curiously flat

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