Love, Honour and Obey

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 11/21/02 09:31:21

"Improv dialogue is always hit or miss. This one hits more than it misses."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

The British gangster flick got a nice shot in the arm with the 'everywhere but America' success of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. There's been (at least) eight East End criminal comedies that have hit the UK scene since, each trying to catch the tail of Lock Stock but most of which couldn't hold a candle to Guy Ritchie's inventive sensual assault. Love, Honor And Obey is a different beast. Yeah, it's about East End crooks. And yeah, there's violence and guns. There's also irony. Originality. Comedy. And karaoke.

Jonny (Jonny Lee Miller) is a courier. And he hates it. His childhood mate, Jude (Jude Law) works for a big time gangster, Ray (Ray Winstone), so Jonny asks for a favor. He wants to come work for the mob and get a bit of excitement in his life. Unfortunately for Jonny, what he sees in his head as the modern day gangster business and what is the reality of the modern day gangster business are two separate things. While Jonny’s sneaking about trying to start a gang war with the crooks across town (Sean Pertwee and a hilarious Rhys Ifans), the rest of his team is quite happy pulling small time jobs and putting away the occasional ale. Nobody wants a war… Too messy.

Unlike most feature films, Love, Honor and Obey has no screenplay. All the dialogue wais created on the fly by the actors, with just a rough idea of where the scene is to go and how it should end. The result is a genuinely funny film, but also a generally messy one. Various set pieces revolving around one crook's bedside problems are particularly funny, but they don't add to the narrative at all, rather they just break up the important scenes with a bit of a giggle.

An A-list cast does the flick no harm at all, and even though it's all a bit of a muck-about for all concerned, fine actors like Kathy Bates, Winstone, Law and Miller are hard to dislike, no matter whether they're singing karaoke or reading page 45 of the Prague phone book.

Not a standout by any count, but certainly not a disaster. Your money won't be wasted here, especially if you have an ironic sense of humor and a few hours to waste.

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