MOVIES

SCREWBALL LOVE

Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson are exes trying to recapture their retirement kitty. And it’s actually funny

Photo: New Line Cinema
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Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Tuppence Middleton

Directed by: Joel Hopkins

Stars: 3 out of 4

Rating: PG-13

For Richard (Pierce Brosnan), life couldn’t be better. He’s about to begin a grand retirement full of travel, golf and relaxation, he has flings with women at least 20 years his junior, and he just sold his company for a cool $10 million. Sure, his ex-wife, Kate (Emma Thompson), hates him for his philandering, but her vitriol is a small price to pay for his bohemian freedom.

Yep, this is the sweet life for Richard. Until (because a movie about an old dude retiring is boring) he gets to work and realizes his company’s been liquidated. Everything — from the office building to employee pensions to his and Kate’s retirement funds — is gone. The company to which Richard sold his business decided it was a liability rather than asset and unceremoniously dumped the whole thing.

Not going down without a fight, Richard and Kate trek from London to Paris to track down Vincent (Laurent Lafitte), the businessman who now threatens their very existence. Upon learning Vincent purchased a valuable diamond and gave it to his fiancée, Manon (Louise Bourgoin), Richard and Kate vow to steal the jewel and re-fund their retirement. For help, they call their friends and neighbors Jerry (Timothy Spall) and Penelope (Celia Imrie), who aren’t the quiet British couple they appear to be.

Whereas most mainstream comedies feature immature man-boys and raunchy gross-out humor (ahem, Neighbors), The Love Punch is smarter and more mature, but no less funny. The cast looks to be having a blast as they travel through Paris and the French Riviera, and a classic rock-infused soundtrack nicely punctuates high moments, such as when they kidnap some Texans and dress in their likeness, snorkel, scale a rock wall and more.

And even better, the movie’s writer/director Joel Hopkins, striking a decidedly more upbeat note after his dour Last Chance Harvey, adds a number of stylistic flourishes to keep it spicy. These moments are subtle, but effective: Note the slow motion as Jerry and Penelope arrive at the airport, and the rack focus as Kate and Richard lie in bed after a gun accident. Playing with the artistic medium of film — rather than simply pointing the camera and telling jokes — keeps the movie dynamic, and its energetic cast provides a more ebullient viewing experience.

The Love Punch is a rare comedy that could’ve been made during the screwball era of the 1930s. There’s a simple, whimsical innocence about it that captures old-school charm in a way that feels timeless. It’s a credit to all involved for being on the same page and executing their jobs with precision.

What’s more, screwball comedies always carried a relevant social message, sending moviegoers home with laughter and a good lesson. For The Love Punch, the lesson is that it’s easy to love someone, but harder to like them as the years go on. 

Any honest married couple will agree
with that.

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