Churchill: The Hollywood Years

Churchill: The Hollywood Years

*

Reviewed by: Martin Drury

Winston Churchill was an American GI, who had a steamy romance with the young Princess Elizabeth. Hitler dined with the Royal family and came close to commanding our forces. This "re-telling" of history pokes fun at the British aristocracy, American patriotism and anyone who paid money to see the movie.

Christian Slater is unconvincing throughout as Winston the GI and Neve Campbell's performance as the romantic heroine with attitude, otherwise known as Princess Elizabeth, begins to grate on a British audience, many of whom might well find her doe-eyed subservience to an American soldier insulting.

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Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer appear as absurdly mannered footmen to the Royals. They make homosexual references in response to anything said to them, before concluding their "hilarious" comedic performance by beating Princess Elizabeth into unconsciousness.

Harry Enfield as the King - his character is listed on several movie databases as George V, which is odd, considering the father of the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret was George VI - is tedious. He asks the audience to laugh at the same joke - the King doesn't know what planet he's on - throughout the entire film.

Jon Culshaw as "the Prime Minister," suddenly confronted with the Churchill conspiracy, is a joy to watch, as it's quite obvious to a British audience who he really is. The Brits are meant to see Tony Blair desperately trying to wriggle out of another trail of lies. His performance sets the tone for the whole film. The audience is asked to chuckle at itself and its foibles.

Why are the British obsessed with tea and crumpets and being civil about things? Why are the Americans always using words like "ass"? Why are Americans so loyal to their patriotic duty?

Churchill: The Hollywood Years thinks it's clever; it's not. It thinks it's a social commentary: it's not. It thinks it's a laugh-out-loud parody, exposing the idiosyncrasies of a super power and its poodle of an ally; it's anything but.

Alongside Culshaw's efforts to raise the standard, the only other notable performance comes from comedienne Sally Phillips, playing a comely waitress heavily embroiled in Churchill and Princess Elizabeth escaping on the Royal train.

Alas, the writing lets both film and actors down tremendously. The script is nothing more than a collection of throwaway gags and tired, repetitive comedy routines.

Every so often, a moment exists when a comedian ceases to be a political prophet of the age, delivering razor edged satire with sardonic wit, and becomes a stupid man, doing silly things. Churchill: The Hollywood Years is that moment brought to celluloid.

Reviewed on: 05 May 2005
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A conspiracy is revealed: Churchill was really an American G.I.
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