Another British film with its roots in television, THE TALL GUY was partly financed by LWT, scripted by Richard Curtis (best known for the "Blackadder" TV series), and directed by Mel Smith--who first came to prominence in the UK as partner to Rowan Atkinson, Griff Rhys Jones, and Pamela
Stephenson in the hit show "Not The Nine O'Clock News." Despite the presence of Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum, this is not A FISH CALLED WANDA. Goldblum is straight man to egotistical comedy star Atkinson in his long-running stage show, "Rubberface Revue." Depressed by the work and his miserable
luck with women, Goldblum auditions for the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production, "Elephant!" a musical version of "The Elephant Man." To everyone's surprise, he lands the title role.
Although Curtis's screenplay and Smith's direction clearly aspire to more than a straight gag comedy, focussing on the central romance in a bid for emotional depth, THE TALL GUY never attains the authenticity or the momentum it needs so badly. Jeff Goldblum is distinctly ill at ease in a part
Curtis based on himself; the smart trading on transatlantic experience John Cleese exploited so expertly in WANDA is by-passed completely here, with only a couple of passing references to the character's nationality. Goldblum is a likable actor, but the character's insecurity, especially sexual
insecurity, seems peculiarly English, and his portrayal is pitched all over the place. Likewise Thompson's prim, matter-of-fact, essentially Home Counties Nurse Lemon is an unlikely inspiration for romantic obsession, the outrageous sex scene notwithstanding.
The movie only sparkles in its second half, when it neatly satirizes the London theatrical scene: Steven Berkoff, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the RSC's crass commercial efforts. The musical "Elephant!" is an inspired and wicked swipe at the Company's dismal staging of a musical "Carrie" (and predates
their forthcoming production of "A Clockwork Orange" with music by U2's the Edge). Some of these sequences are priceless (a chorus line of tap-dancing elephants; John Merrick's death-bed rising up to heaven), and finally Smith seems to get the measure of his material.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1989
- Rating: NR
- Review: Another British film with its roots in television, THE TALL GUY was partly financed by LWT, scripted by Richard Curtis (best known for the "Blackadder" TV series), and directed by Mel Smith--who first came to prominence in the UK as partner to Rowan Atkins… (more)