The Love Punch
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie
From Ketchup Entertainment
Mischievous couple score big in slow-moving comedy
by Michael Clawson of Terminal Volume
Charm is a valuable currency in movies. Where action, humor and drama might be deficient, charm can swoop in and make a bankrupt film much more solvent.
That little feat happens several times in The Love Punch, a movie that frequently rewards your patience in its plodding plot and overacted gags.
The film, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, is a slightly madcap comedy about white-collar banker Richard (Pierce Brosnan) and his ex-wife Kate (Emma Thompson) teaming back up many years after their divorce to go on a covert mission to rescue their stolen pensions from a swindling venture capitalist.
Brosnan and Thompson, James Bond and Nanny McPhee, play their roles as bickering children with long-healed wounds. These are mostly hammy performances — especially Thompson, who overacts in several agonizing scenes — although they’re occasionally very fresh and funny, like when the divorced couple share a tense dinner from across a courtyard; their conversation involves the comparing of cholesterol numbers.
The action takes the film to France, where their crook is going to be married to a sweet-natured French woman with a diamond that could double as a boat anchor. Spy-movie clichés get goofy makeovers, including car chases, elaborate heists, climbing fortress walls via grappling hooks and ropes, and the hijacking of some Texans’ identities. “Who are we now, the Pink Panther?” Thompson says as their stunts get wilder and more dangerous.
Late in the film, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie turn up as Kate’s neighbors and fellow wannabe spies. Spall’s character brings a gun to a dinner and, of course, everyone has to see it and point it until someone shoots a hole in wine barrel. These jokes feel old, but the giddy looks on everyone’s faces is light-hearted and fun. After they grapple their way up a castle wall, Imrie suggests they all break for lunch; she’s packed sandwiches into her scuba suit. In another scene, Brosnan suggests they all synchronize watches: the numbers said out loud are 7:28, 7:32, 7:32 and 6:30 — Spall’s face looks deeply, and hilariously, troubled at his misplaced hour.
You can see the writing on the wall as the film draws closer to its finale: Richard and Kate have never gotten over each other. And their wanton mischief sparks new life in their dead romance. It’s a predictable turn, but one that works simply and effectively. The Love Punch is not a great comedy, but it has its occasional charms. And that goes a long way.