Sunday, 19 October 2008

No.90 : We’re No Angels

We're No Angels at the IMDb

Robert De Niro and Sean Penn star as a pair of escaped felons who disguise themselves as priests to avoid recapture. No hilarity ensues.

The film opens in decent fashion with our men safely locked up. After they chat during the governor’s speech they are given a beating and made to watch the execution of a mass murderer. Things go pear shaped however when the bad guy escapes from the electric chair and drags our heroes along in his escape bid. They manage to get over the wall but are left on their own as they are still chained up.

They manage to make it to a small town but the authorities are hot on their trail. As luck would have it a religious festival is about to start and our guys manage to pass themselves off as a pair of priests. Unable to get out of town they try to lie low but complications arise through Demi Moore’s single mother and Bruno Kirby’s confessional lawman.

Obviously no one has photographs of anyone as no one knows what the priests or indeed the escaped criminals look like. Fortunately for our guys the real priests take their time in arriving and everyone is so stupid that Sean Penn’s rough Brooklyn thicko can pass himself off as a distinguished scholar. They also fool young monk John C. Reilly who idolises their every word and mimics the clothes peg still stuck on Penn’s stolen clothes.

With the town in lock down and the real priests overdue our guys are in a bind. Could a procession into Canada be their salvation and can they convince the faithless Demi to lend them her sick child to allow them to join? Obviously the answer to both is yes and the only question remains is whether can they escape and at what cost?

This is a terrible film that can only be described as a comedy if your definition doesn’t require laughs, funny situations or characters. The opening scenes in the prison are really brutal and it hardly sits well with a film that quickly shifts to a bog standard fish out of water scenario. The laughs are supposedly derived form the situation of a couple of crooks passing themselves off as priests, but given that the church is so corrupt it’s hardly a great stretch.

I quite like De Niro in his ‘Meet the Parents’ comedy role but here he offers nothing in the way of mirth or sympathy for a poorly drawn character. Penn likewise was funny as Jeff Spicoli in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ but here he’s just a whiny caricature of the dumb New Yorker. The film boasts a cracking second string cast but no one does their best work here with the usually reliable Kirby and Reilly praying for a miracle in the shape of a decent line or scrap of character development.

The set up was pretty weak from the off and these ‘trapped in town’ films always seem restricted and annoying to me. The various impediments put in their path seem fabricated and why two hardened criminals don’t steal a truck from the start is never explained. The lack of the real priests also grates with their prolonged and unexplained absence an obvious McGuffin to allow the situation to exist.

The idea that our men can be redeemed by their masquerade is a pretty thin theme and I certainly had nothing invested in their dull quest for freedom and absolution.

There is pretty much nothing to recommend this film which is as much fun as two hours at church but significantly less funny.

Best Bit : Jail Break

‘W’ Score : 8/23

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