This Michael Hoffman directed remake of the sixties original starring Michael Caine and Shirley Maclain, has a screenplay by Oscar Winners Joel, and Ethan Cohen. The action has been updated to modern day, and some locations have been changed, but strangely everyone in the movie is still acting out the same dated stereotypes.
The cartoon-y opening credits and Henry Mancini type music suggest the idea was to recreate the feel of movies such as the Pink Panther series, or an old Brian Rix, Ealing-type comedy. Unfortunately thanks to uncouth releases like The Hangover, our comedic expectations have been severely dumbed down these days.
This means that despite the talent involved, Gambit isn’t funny or clever enough to regenerate the ‘farce’ genre for today’s audience, and where it could have been ‘classy’ or ‘smart’ instead for the most, it feels a tad old fashioned.
In case you missed the original, here is a brief outline of the plot.
Colin Firth plays the mastermind behind a scheme to trick his art-loving boss into buying a forged painting. The plan looks foolproof on paper, but when he enlists Cameron Diaz (a Texan rodeo rider) to help, things start to go off the rails. Tom Courtenay is always good, but criminally underused as the master forger and Alan Rickman plays said rich boss, and occasional nudist with his usual nonchalance.
Firth spends a good half an hour of the film creeping around the Savoy Hotel in and out of guest bedrooms and balconies without his trousers on, and while it’s not an unpleasant movie actual laughs are few and far between (and then they are more grins or smirks).
If you are a big fan of any of the leading characters you may find the film more enjoyable, especially Cameron Diaz cavorting around in her underwear and that could be one of the main reasons to rent on DVD.
Stanley Tucci steals the show as an international art boffin, but despite the strong cast, Gambit never gels like it could, and what you get is a series of stilted, staged set pieces, that while inoffensive never really grab you.
Gambit is out on DVD now
Starring Coin Firth, Alan Rickman, Cameroon Diaz, Tom Courtenay and Stanly Tucci,