Take talents like Jeff Goldblum, Bob Hoskins and Natasha Richardson and put them together in a comedy and you should have a funny movie. Against all odds, however, THE FAVOUR, THE WATCH, AND THE VERY BIG FISH only succeeds intermittently in amusing, conveying more the waste of a good cast
than movie magic.
Louis Aubinard (Hoskins) is a "devotional photographer" of religious themes in search of the perfect Christ model who succeeds, in a roundabout way, when the favor he does for an actor friend brings him together with Sybil (Richardson). A leg waxer in a beauty shop, Sybil does acting work on the
side, primarily as a moaner for porno loops, which brings her together with Louis. She's also the one with the watch, given to her by a little girl at a dinner club, where Sybil also works as a waitress, as payment to make the house pianist (Jeff Goldblum) smile. Sybil decides to make him smile in
the traditional way in which women often make men smile, but she must wait four days as it's her "time of the month."
In the meantime, a violinist sweeps Sybil off her feet, sending the smitten pianist into a rage during which he assaults the violinist and is put into prison. Sybil and Louis have a significant moment together as porno co-moaners, leading Sybil to con a large sum of money out of Louis to care for
her sick grandfather and to buy a coat for the pianist, who's coming out of prison the following day.
Louis goes to the prison, where Sybil stands him up. But he eventually hooks up with the pianist, who's not only the perfect Christ model, but also has star quality enough to make him an overnight celebrity--along with a couple of "miracles." Thinking Louis to be yet another contender for Sybil's
affections, the pianist goes bonkers yet again, bringing about the ending and bringing Louis and Sybil together for the final fadeout.
Unfortunately, THE FAVOUR, THE WATCH, AND THE VERY BIG FISH sounds a lot funnier than it really is. (The very big fish, by the way, has nothing to do with anything. It makes a cameo appearance before disappearing into a meat grinder.) While certainly not suffering from a shortage of incidents, the
plot never picks up much momentum. Instead, it plays like one thing after another, piling on one outrageous gag after another without ever seeming to have much of a point. As a result, the film doesn't so much wind up as wind down, exhausting itself, and its audience, long before it's over.
As other recent casualties can attest, from Ted Kotcheff's FOLKS! to Peter Bogdanovich's strained mounting of Michael Frayn's NOISES OFF, pure farce is one of the trickiest movie forms to pull off successfully; even reigning master Blake Edwards hasn't really done it in years. But writer-director
Ben Lewin, adapting a French short story, barely gets out of first gear. His ideas are rarely either fresh or imaginative and his sense of pacing is virtually nonexistent. Scene after scene lumbers along gracelessly when it should dance. What charm, and what few laughs there are, come from the
cast's efforts to breathe life into Lewin's comedy corpse.
Hoskins does what he's been doing too often over the last few years, bringing wit and warmth to largely witless, unengaging material. He remains one of the best, most resourceful actors working in films today. But when is somebody going to get him a decent script? Much the same could be said for
Richardson (PATTY HEARST, THE HANDMAID'S TALE), who has similarly been burning up her career, wasting her luscious, thinking-man's sex appeal in mediocre, unsexy movies. Rounding out the leading trio, Goldblum continues to amaze. Is there another actor on earth right now who could play a
modern-day Christ as a slightly distracted, and more-than-a-little annoyed, unwilling celebrity and make it not only funny but utterly believable?
But the real surprise is Michel Blanc, who played the obsessed voyeur to a poignant perfection in MONSIEUR HIRE, who's so hilarious as Hoskins's oh-so-despicably-French boss that the two should think about making a movie series as a team. Unfortunately, as with the other actors, he is at his best
when he's most able to make you forget how utterly uninspired a film this otherwise is. (Adult situations, nudity, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Take talents like Jeff Goldblum, Bob Hoskins and Natasha Richardson and put them together in a comedy and you should have a funny movie. Against all odds, however, THE FAVOUR, THE WATCH, AND THE VERY BIG FISH only succeeds intermittently in amusing, convey… (more)