Gambit review: Face it, Colin Firth, jokes just aren"t your forte…

Face it, Firth, jokes just aren't your forte… Remake of Gambit falls flat

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UPDATED:

01:48 GMT, 23 November 2012

GAMBIT (12A)

Verdict: Comic caper that doesn't caper comically

The not so funny man: Colin Firth as Harry Deane in the remake of Gambit

The not so funny man: Colin Firth as Harry Deane in the remake of Gambit

Gambit is a very loose remake of a lightweight 1966 heist movie that starred Michael Caine as a thief using a Eurasian accomplice (Shirley MacLaine) to steal an art treasure from a nasty Middle Eastern potentate (Herbert Lom).

The script has been updated by Joel and Ethan Coen with the same love of old comedies they extended to their remake of The Ladykillers.

The director is Michael Hoffman, an American whose best films include The Last Station and the under- rated Soapdish.

Colin Firth takes over the Caine role and even seems to have borrowed his spectacles. His aim is to trick his bully of a boss (Alan Rickman) into buying a fake Monet by a skilled forger (Tom Courtenay).

Everything that could go wrong does, and Firth undergoes a series of comic humiliations at the hands of both his Texan cowgirl accomplice (Cameron Diaz) and his entertainingly vicious boss. Some of these involve losing his trousers.

Firth is a good sport who has attempted farcical comedy before, in movies such as Hope Floats and the St Trinian’s films.

Frankly, he should stop. This is not his forte.

Diaz’s smile lights up the screen, though her role struggles to be as much as one-dimensional.
Paradoxically, it is Rickman who steals the picture, with an enjoyably boorish combination of Alan Sugar and Michael Winner.

Scroll down to watch trailer

Leading lady: Cameron Diaz, pictured with her co-star Colin Firth, lights up the screen in Gambit but her character is less than one dimensional

Leading lady: Cameron Diaz, pictured with her co-star Colin Firth, lights up the screen in Gambit but her character is less than one dimensional

This is a film that needed to be bright and breezy, not leaden and lacklustre. None of it is as funny as it ought to be. Hoffman can be blamed for the draggy pace, but the Coens’ screenplay descends all too rapidly into flatulence gags and people punching Firth in a vain attempt to raise a laugh.

It’s an innocuous way to pass the time and on TV you probably wouldn’t switch it off, but all the considerable talents involved might have tried remaking a film that was more worth reviving.

The best thing about it is the cartoony titles sequence, which pays tribute to the Pink Panther series and is infinitely more inventive than anything in the film itself.

Now watch the trailer