Perhaps if you've been following the British TV serial Stella Street as it's been airing over the past four years in bite-size 10- and 15- minute segments, you might be primed for a feature-length film devoted to the absurd misadventures of the megacelebrities who for some reason now live in a quiet, middle-class London suburb. Then again, think of A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY and THE LADIES MAN and remember what Saturday Night Live has to teach us about the perils of overinflating sketch comedy: What's funny at five minutes can be tragedy at 90. The basic premise of the original BBC2-TV show is actually quite funny: Stars such as Michael Caine, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson have left the hubbub of Hollywood and Monte Carlo for the quiet, rather drab life on Stella Street, a leafy court in southwest London where they live among daffy local residents. David Bowie has also found himself a lovely semi-detached house, and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards run the corner shop. Even funnier is the fact that they're all impersonated by the same two comedians, Phil Cornwell and John Sessions, who first developed the idea with Peter Richardson, the show's cowriter/director and founder of the Comic Strip comedy club. Pile too much explication or plot on top of this supremely silly scenario, however, and the whole thing collapses faster than IT'S PAT. Which is exactly what happens. We not only learn what brought Caine, Pacino, Nicholson and, later, Joe Pesci to the London suburb of Surbiton, but we're then forced to follow a laborious plot to first steal Pacino's Damien Hirst cow fetus, then defraud the celebs of all their wealth. Granted, seeing the foul-mouthed and now impoverished Pesci forced to take a job as a crossing guard, testily escorting old people across the street, and the totally broke Keef and Mick working at the supermarket checkout, is pretty funny, and a celebrity-studded party scene gives actress Ronni Ancona the chance to do her spot-on Madonna and hysterically stupid Posh Spice. The rest, however, is surprisingly humor-free. Worse, with the exception of Cornwell's brilliant Bowie, the impersonations aren't particularly good, and can be found in any two-bit comedian's repertoire. Who doesn't do Jack Nicholson?
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: Perhaps if you've been following the British TV serial Stella Street as it's been airing over the past four years in bite-size 10- and 15- minute segments, you might be primed for a feature-length film devoted to the absurd misadventures of the megacelebri… (more)