Movie Review : Gambit
Critic's Rating: 3 out of 5
Cast: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Cloris Leachman
Direction: Michael Hoffman
Duration: 1 hour 29 minutes
Story: A frustrated English art curator Harry Deane (Firth) tries to get one up over his boss by conning him into buying a fake painting worth millions. As part of the ruse, Harry enlists the help of his assistant and a feisty Texan lady.
Review: While billed as a remake of a 1966 movie starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this film seems a very distant, though modern facsimile of the former. Life is difficult for Harry because his boss, a millionaire mogul called Lionel Shabandar (Rickman, sharp as ever), tends to make his bumbling minion feel like an idiot. What Harry does know a lot about, however, is art. He can tell a Rembrandt from a Monet with just a glance and a very good fake from the real McCoy.
Deciding to con his boss, Harry isolates Monet's 'Haystacks' (thought to be lost in the aftermath of Nazi-occupied Europe in World War II) and enlists his trusty assistant, The Major (Courtenay) to forge a copy of the same. As part of the ruse, Texan cowgirl P.J. (Diaz), in whose grandma's (Leachman) house the fake Monet hangs, is flown down to England to meet, charm and seal the deal with Shabandar for the rare canvas.
P.J. seems to embody almost every aspect of a Texan parody available. But enough is telegraphed in a film of this sort, and things can and will unravel. As Shabandar and P.J. develop their own chemistry, Harry's plan seems to fizzle. And what Harry doesn't know is that as a final insulting coup de grace, Shabandar plans to fire him and replace him with German art appraiser Zaidenweber (Tucci).
Rickman and Firth fit their roles like a glove while Diaz with the Texan chic, yee-hawing in Central London, is a bit silly. However, Hoffman uses London as a backdrop rather nicely. And the Coen Brothers' (screenplay) stamp is more than evident. This is a fairly standard heist comedy, but is loaded with just enough silly humour and charm to make it a pleasant ride.