Stars: Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Cameron Diaz
Harry Dean (Colin Firth) is a downtrodden curator of an art collection belonging to the extremely wealthy and unpleasant Lord Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman).
Fed up with constant bad treatment, Dean hatches a plot to con his boss into buying a faked copy of a Monet painting that was lost during the Second World War, with the help of PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) and a forger, rather strangely known as The Major (Tom Courtenay).
The plan is described as very simple, but of course it doesn’t turn out like that at all.
In fact, nothing goes as Harry imagines it and he ends up in all sorts of bother along the way, including the loss of his trousers, an encounter with a lion, and three punches on the nose.
The opening animated sequence evokes memories of the Pink Panther movies, and you expect to see Gambit unfold as an Ealing-style farce, but it never quite makes it.
However, Firth, Rickman and Diaz all put in great performances and, although there are some moments that make you chuckle, there are no “laugh out loud” funnies.
This is a remake of the 1966 Michael Caine film, and features a new screenplay by the Coen brothers.
Gambit makes no moral or ethical statements (Coen brothers films are often amoral) but if you want something that you don’t have to think too hard about in the run up to Christmas, and only lasts 90 minutes, this fits the bill nicely.
Oh, watch out for the very clever twist at the end…
And talking of Christmas, here’s my top five festive films: top of the list comes The Muppet Christmas Carol – we watch it every Christmas Eve and it never fails to delight.
Second comes Elf, which is delightfully silly, with Will Ferrell at his comic best, and third comes Santa Claus the Movie, a nice, fluffy tale of Santa versus the nasty BZ toys, with great turns from Dudley Moore and John Lithgow.
Fourth is Santa Who?, with Leslie Nielsen losing his memory after falling out of the sleigh and needing a child’s help to rediscover his true identity.
Fifth is Jack Frost with Michael Keaton – it’s not particularly Christmassy, but a very funny story.
Do you agree with Martin? Or are you annoyed that he’s left out The Nativity Story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas or It’s A Wonderful Life? Log on to xnmedia.co.uk and have your say!