Movie Magazine International

Shooting Fish

UK - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

"Shooting Fish" is a bright and shiny piece of cinematic fluff, a Burt Bacharach-fueled midsummer night's flight of fancy, and a clever, light-hearted commentary on Mr. Barnum's dictum, "There's one born every minute."

The first shot is actor Dan Futterman as a suave con man fixing an awe-inspiring, laser lock look directly at the camera and selling an offscreen mark on a computer system that really is too good to be true. Futterman could sell ice cubes to eskimos and name his own price. He plays Dylan, the American half of a pair of scam artists for whom no con is too small, big, complicated, or resistible. His smooth savoir fair is in sharp contrast to his partner in subterfuge, Jez, a socially inept mechanical genius, played whimsy and embarrassment by Stuart Townsend. Jez couldn't sell ice in any of the nine circles of Dante's Inferno. Heck, he couldn't give it away. These two have good rapport, but the only thing they have in common is being smarter then most people and having their moral compasses out of kilter. Together, they push the envelope of home decorating and hatch schemes of dizzying complexity, while saving every ill-gotten gain for a mysterious charity involving orphans.

At least that's what they tell their unexpected accomplice, Georgie. She's a beautiful med student moonlighting as a stenographer who stumbles upon their illegal activities and, in an impromptu walk on the wild side, joins in the fun. She also provides the romantic sub-plot that's almost as complicated as one of Dylan and Jez's scams.

The plot, a carefully calibrated juggernaut, twists, turns and would be ill-served by being given away in any of its particulars. Suffice to say that just before the lads are about to realize their dreams, the wrong person gets wise and disaster ensues. Of course. An elaborate set-up is pointless unless there's a complication. This one involves a wedding, two keys, and an unfortunate bout of constipation.

There's also some of the most inventive applications of revenge I've ever encountered. It's well worth the trouble of taking notes.

"Shooting Fish" was an enormous hit in England last Fall. This subversive little gem deserves the same reception here.

© 1998 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 5/6/98

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