Friday, December 01, 2006

Film Reviews: The Importance of Being Earnest

This week’s movie review is The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Oliver Parker.

To start with, I can’t help but feel that there is a great deal of confusion with this movie, which is also—apparently—a play? Dennis Littrell posited:

This is an inventive and artful production of Oscar Wilde's play, but I can confidently say that were Oscar Wilde alive today, he would be appalled at the misuse to which his play has been put. Indeed I think I feel the ground rumbling as he rolls over in his grave, and yes he is actually spinning in anguish.

Possibly. I mean, I didn’t know Oscar, but I don’t think that he ever thought his play would end up being yet another installation in the Ernest series, that lovable good-for-nuthin’ with the irresistable catchphrase, “Hey Vern!”

And it is an odd choice. To start with, the whole thing takes place in Great Britain, which was once part of England and now is part of the United Kingdom. And on top of that it is apparently a period piece since everybody in the movie wears fancy clothes and listens to Victrolas, hence the monicker “The Victorian Era.” Why a period piece, you might ask? An excellent question. Even the Police Academy series didn’t feel the need to go back in time. But maybe that’s just what the tired old genre needed, according to reviewer windspray:

Sounds like my unfamiliarity with Wilde's play and the previous version of this movie was to my advantage. After all I could view this movie based on its own merits without any other comparisons getting in the way.

This didn’t sit so well with T. Rendell, who titled his review The dumbing-down of Oscar Wilde:

Urgent memo to Oliver Parker: Oscar Wilde is not about slapstick.

The plot, though, is vintage Ernest T. Worrell nonsense. summed it up their review:

The Importance of Being Earnest
stars Colin Firth as an English gentleman who pretends to be his own brother, named Ernest, so he can enjoy himself in the city without besmirching his reputation at his country estate. Unfortunately, he's just fallen in love with a young woman who insists that she can only marry a man named Ernest--and when Firth's best friend goes to Firth's country estate pretending to be this same brother Ernest, he falls in love with Firth's ward, who similarly feels that Ernest is the perfect name for a husband...

Earnest, which is apparently the British spelling of Ernest, is still the same old lovable scamp, but I have to say he has lost some of his old-fashioned pratfall humor. Probably because veteran comedian Jim Varney is hardly to be found. Is he even in this movie? Perhaps they couldn’t afford him. But in any case, it hardly matters. In the end, The Importance of Being Earnest still proves to be as important as any other movie in the Ernest series, as reviewer Katherine Brodsky points out:

What ensues further is a hilarious tale of mistaken identity.

Indeed, the further ensuance is hilarious indeed.


Anonymous said...

I just love it when hilarity ensues. I enjoyed reading this entry--hopefully movie reviews will become a regular installment on VLKF.

Tasha said...

Dear Fact Men,
While reading this candid & timely film review, a question occured to me: how does someone "spin" in their grave? It seems the best you could do in a grave would be to roll over or violently flip.

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

Dear anonymous,

Thanks for your comment! Hilarity is, indeed, hilarious to many. Thanks again for your comment!

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

Dear tasha,

Thanks for your comment! If you "read between the lines," you might see that someone "spinning" in their grave is not meant as a literal 360 degree rotation. It is more figural. Think of it in PR terms: these people are still trying to manipulate public opinion of their own work from the Great Beyond, much like "ghost writers." Thanks again for your comment!