All The Queen's Men

It's not SOME LIKE IT HOT, but this cross-dressing WWII romp, an ambitious mix of action, espionage, comedy and wartime romance, is good-natured fun; it doesn't always work, but it's not for want of trying. Europe, 1944. American Special Agent Steven O'Rourke (Matt LaBlanc) — known among the officers as "Special Agent Almost" due to his dismal record...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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It's not SOME LIKE IT HOT, but this cross-dressing WWII romp, an ambitious mix of action, espionage, comedy and wartime romance, is good-natured fun; it doesn't always work, but it's not for want of trying. Europe, 1944. American Special Agent Steven O'Rourke (Matt LaBlanc) — known among the officers as "Special Agent Almost" due to his dismal record of successfully completed mission — is recruited by British intelligence for a particularly risky undercover operation. O'Rourke and a small team are to sneak into Berlin and steal a precious Enigma encryption machine (also featured in U-571 and ENIGMA) directly from the factory where they're made. The comedic catch: Since most able-bodied men are away fighting for the Nazi cause, German factories are now manned by women. In order to successfully snatch an Enigma machine, O'Rourke and his unlikely band of brothers — which includes encoding whiz Johnson, aka "Johnno" (David Birkin), and aging pencil-pusher Archie (James Cosmo) — will have to do it in drag. To help pull off the masquerade, British Colonel Aitken (Edward Fox) enlists the expertise of the former adjunct to the military attache in Berlin, Tony Parker (Eddie Izzard); in addition to speaking flawless German, Parker now performs as a female impersonator in gay cabarets. O'Rourke teaches his men combat maneuvers while Parker teaches them to walk in heels, and by the end of the four-week training period they're about as ready as they'll ever be. Once they're airdropped in full drag behind enemy lines, however, unforeseen complications arise. What they thought was the factory turns out to be a cleverly constructed decoy; Parker risks blowing their cover by contacting the love he left behind in Berlin; and their German contact, pretty young librarian Romy (Nicolette Krebitz), is being closely pursued by a love-struck Gestapo agent (Karl Markovics). Complicating matters further are the romantic sparks that inevitably fly between Romy and O'Rourke. Throughout, LeBlanc affects a rakish, 1940's movie idol pose, and while he certainly looks the part, he's not entirely convincing. Neither is much of the movie: The pacing is often way off and there are too many bona fide groaners among too few laughs. But the film's production design is handsome, and it has a serious side that makes it impossible to dismiss entirely: In pitting O'Rourke's thinly disguised homophobia against Parker's heroism, the film tries to say something positive about combating stereotypes while touching on the awful fate of homosexuals during the Third Reich.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: It's not SOME LIKE IT HOT, but this cross-dressing WWII romp, an ambitious mix of action, espionage, comedy and wartime romance, is good-natured fun; it doesn't always work, but it's not for want of trying. Europe, 1944. American Special Agent Steven O'Rou… (more)

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