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The Love Punch – Movie Review

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The Love Punch – Movie Review

Rating: D (Very Bad)

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There are certain comedies one watches and you wonder why the director or writer thought a joke was, in any way, funny. Did nobody take Adam Sandler aside and tell him that the silly voice he was using in Little Nicky would quickly grate on a viewer’s nerves? Just as sad is a comedy where it seems like the pieces are in place and one can see why the filmmakers thought there was comedic potential in a joke or story moment. Joel Hopkins is a talented director, having previously helmed the charming Last Chance Harvey, and he’s rounded up a solid group of actors. The story of a divorced couple who team up to steal millions of dollars worth of jewelry to help pay for pension plans seems like a premise out of an Ealing Comedy. Yet the jokes never land and as the wait for successful humour increases, The Love Punch becomes more boring.

One of the most disappointing elements of The Love Punch is seeing otherwise talented actors like Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan try and force humour out of the dire script. Thompson is an accomplished screenwriter in her own right and incredibly witty, when given the opportunity. However, her performance takes a lot of odd turns as she faints, shouts, looks awkwardly around and seems uncertain of where to go. Though Pierce Brosnan thankfully does not sing anywhere in the movie, he looks similarly perplexed. He seems rather miscast in a role that maybe Hugh Grant would have been a better choice to play. Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie are roped into the tired comedy as well, with most of their moments either involving a strange running gag about Spall’s past or them trying to regain their youthful vigor. Oddly, their subplot brings to mind the similar themes explored in Neighbors, except that film had a point and The Love Punch mostly descends into stupid and random humour. However, out of all of the actors, French actress Louise Bourgoin comes out the most scathed as her performance comes off as stilted and unnatural.

However, a lot of the blame should go to Joel Hopkins’ tired direction. Any hint of comedic timing is non-existent and the screenplay is devoted to some rather unspectacular running jokes. A bit involving Thompson and Brosnan accidentally seeing the crotch of their son’s roommate via video chat is done not once, but twice. Think actors over 50 walking in slow-motion to modern music is funny? Well, lucky for you, they also repeat that gag. Even simple verbal jokes never quite land and it leaves one to wonder whether the editing ruined it or the actors were not up to snuff or they just were not that funny to begin with. The answer is probably all of the above. When the movie wants to be zany, it’s not quite crazy enough. When it wants to be more low-key and down-to-earth, the script becomes contrived and too unbelievable. What a coincidence that two characters end up in a room with the very things that give them allergies. When Timothy Spall finds himself in possession of a gun, it’s used in one scene and never appears again. It’s those ridiculous moments that help contribute to the jokes not working.

At no point do these characters become likeable or worth rooting for, even if their criminal plan is for a good cause. There wasn’t a time where I actively cared whether they would succeed in their goal or not and the attempts at being suspenseful don’t work. Maybe a as short, it would have been a humorous film, but at ninety minutes, it starts to wear out its welcome. In the first act, there’s a patient wait for funny material to arrive. Through the middle, there’s constant hope that maybe something will produce sufficient laughter. By the end, The Love Punch has proven itself to be a bore just waiting to finish. It’s mystifying how a film with this talent could produce such dire and dull material and why jokes that could potentially work just lay flat the entire time.

I could say The Love Punch suffers from a lot of sitcom-caliber humour, but that would be an insult to the history of brilliant situational comedy that has come out of Great Britain. It seems the jokes are in place, they’ve cast an accomplished group of actors and there’s a premise full of possibilities. However, when the most produced are a couple of slight chuckles here and there, it results in a very disappointing ninety minutes. The Love Punch isn’t an annoying comedy, but one could argue that being boring is just as ponderous.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

THE SCENE


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