Mickey Blue Eyes

Mickey Blue Eyes

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hugh Grant has become the quintessential Englishman-at-large. He is different from Cary in the sense that every role has subtle differences. Michael Felgate in Mickey Blue Eyes is not the half-baked bookseller from Notting Hill, nor the bungling protagonist in Four Weddings And A Funeral, although they share certain mannerisms. Michael is a product of the English public school system, which means he pretends to be hopeless when, in fact, he's quite smart.

He is second to the CEO (James Fox) at a Sotheby's-style auction house in New York. He's good at his job. He has the charm, he has the knowledge and he has an Italian-American fiancée, called Gena (Jeanne Tripplehorn). What he doesn't know yet is that when her relatives talk of the family, they don't mean a kiss on both cheeks.

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Her dad is played by James Caan, who was shot to bits in The Godfather. That's a clue. The concept of a toff ("I talk funny and my hair is unusually floppy") in Mafialand has potential for visual gags. These are realised up to a point. Canadian director, Kelly Makin, cut his teeth on slapstick TV satire. His natural instinct is to aim for the funny bone, when what this needs is sophisticated situation comedy. You feel that Grant and partner/producer Elizabeth Hurley have tampered with the dialogue in a good way, holding the reins on outright farce.

The script (Adam Scheinman, Robert Kuhn) has interesting twists and does not play entirely on caricature. The idea that Michael will be drawn into the family and forever compromised rings true. "A tiny favour, a little lie," warns Gina, "and you're theirs." The electricity between Grant and Tripplehorn fuses, while Caan is fully plugged in. The film is never less than entertaining. Occasionally, it is hilarious, as when Michael attempts to talk mobspeak. Ultimately, however, it falls short. Continuous self-effacement leads to indifference. Grant cannot be blamed. He does what he does with grace.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Comedy in which a British auctioneer becomes embroiled in the mob after proposing to a gangster's daughter.
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Director: Kelly Makin

Writer: Jim Thomas, John Thomas

Starring: Hugh Grant, James Fox, Jeanne Tripplehorn, James Caan, Burt Young, Joe Viterelli, Gerry Becker

Year: 1999

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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