Full of Capraesque sentimentality and populism, SWEET TALKER is a formulaic feel-good movie immensely aided by an attractive cast and equally fetching Australian scenery.
On the day smooth-talking Harry Reynolds (Bryan Brown) is released from prison, he takes with him some plans for a foolproof con belonging to his aging cell-mate Cec (Bill Kerr). On his way out, he also pickpockets a stack of credit cards from a scuzzy jailhouse lawyer named Bostock (Chris
Haywood) who's versed in white collar crime and who possesses an unforgiving nature. In the sleepy coastal town of Dunesport, local legend proclaims that a pirate galleon is buried beneath the sand dunes. Playing on the greed of the residents, who covet the ship's concealed booty, Harry palms
himself off as a visionary who wants to exhume the boat and build a theme park.
Although pulling the wool over the eyes of the trusting yokels doesn't give Harry's conscience any twinges initially, he develops a relationship with Julie (Karen Allen), a divorced innkeeper, and her son David (Justin Rosniak), who's eager to adopt Harry as a father figure. The money starts
pouring in--even a local hood named Giles (Peter Hehir) wants to launder loot through Harry's scam--but Harry is nonplussed when Julie decides to invest her savings.
Before the increasingly loving Harry can extricate himself from the mushrooming fleecing he had planned for the town and vamoose, the oily lawyer Bostock turns up and forces Harry to turn over any development rights to the beachfront property that the con man has been dealing with. If he doesn't
betray the local residents immediately, Bostock threatens to have a chat with Harry's parole board. More surprises are in store when Cec wins early prison release and arrives with profit-sharing demands. After Cec is recognized by the constabulary, the jig is more or less up.
Hauled before the town council, Harry admits his Harold Hill-like proclivities. But Mother Nature provides a deus exmachina in the form of a raging storm that unearths the sunken ship; it wasn't a fantasy after all. After forking over his cash to Cec, Harry decides to remain in the town and help
the forgiving residents actually develop the town as a resort.
If you keep your expectations low SWEET TALKER can be a pleasurable viewing experience. In recent roles like this and TV's "The Perfect Murder" Brown has been honing his skills as a light comedian. Bolstered by reliable supporting players (some of whom would be at home in a Preston Sturges
comedy), Brown carries the film with an unassuming manly self-confidence. As a shaggy dog tale about redemption, the film's screenplay is a bit on the shallow side, but it does set up the city slicker's growing affection for the divorcee and her son with unruffled ease. If suspense is in short
supply and if the amusement level is more chuckles than belly laughs, at least SWEET TALKER remains true to its own unfrazzled, soft-sell treatment of events.
Good-naturedly, the film cons us into buying this calculatedly uplifting yarn, and we don't mind because the cast keeps the proceedings on a playful even keel. In the realm of caper movies, it has a sort of puppy dog appeal. Manipulative but never cloying, it tugs at our heartstrings as Harry's
better nature gets the best of him and recasts him in the role of instant husband, father and man of the people. SWEET TALKER piques our curiosity not about whether Harry will turn out to be true blue, but how in the hell he'll get out from under the get-rich-quick scheme that spins out of his
Offering few surprises and a screenplay that might have been more suitable for audiences several decades ago, SWEET TALKER would have us contemporary cynics believe that inside every grifter is a misunderstood orphan who just needs to be loved. Perhaps every prison release program should come
complete with a handy divorcee and a lovable boy in order to cut down on recidivism. Still, if you can stifle your cynicism, SWEET TALKER serves up a redemptive fantasy that most viewers will probably be sweet-talked into accepting. (Some violence, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: PG
- Review: Full of Capraesque sentimentality and populism, SWEET TALKER is a formulaic feel-good movie immensely aided by an attractive cast and equally fetching Australian scenery. On the day smooth-talking Harry Reynolds (Bryan Brown) is released from prison, he… (more)