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Shooting Fish

Starring Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend and Kate Beckinsale
Written by Stefan Schwartz and Richard Holmes
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Website: www.foxsearchlight.com/shootfish/

IN SHORT: Cute.

Shooting Fish is the typically fluffy and lighter weight telefilm that seems to come out of the UK theses days. It's enjoyable enough to make it as date flick on these shores. Shooting Fish is cute and requires a huge suspension of belief to make the entire caper come off successfully, both in story and in belly laughs. The characterizations, though, are prime. Let's face it, good characters, fun folk to watch can carry a lame story for a very long time. They can carry a far-fetched story quite a bit further. Which is where shooting fish comes in.

Start with a pair of separated by the Great pond young men. Jez (Stuart Townsend) is an English mop topped techno-geek, kind of Ringo without the rings or the schnoz or the backbeat. Dylan (Dan Futterman) is American, a smooth talking kind of John/Paul clone -- supersharp, handsome and quick on his feet and smooth with the ladies. They go around scamming rich people out of money, to finance their orphans charity fund. The purpose: to providing housing and a good life for orphans in need.

Of course, they're both orphans.

Now most stories like this have a dame in distress. That would be the med student Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) who's temping for cash and has secrets of her own to hide. In this case, she's not really in distress, in the sense that the guys are really in it for the grand notion of saving a lady in distress, but you can bet that'll happen before the end of the flick. The first half is all about bonding and who gets the girl. The con is a scheme to convince pinched nose Engloids to part with large banque cheques for a voice recognition computing system that exists only behind a false case and remote control terminal. Once that's done, for fun, the pair swipe insulation from one house and install it in the next house, and so on down the block, collecting cash all the while.

This would be all so incredible distasteful if the story of Shooting Fish weren't so absolutely lighthearted and impossible. Police don't behave like police, until the story calls for it. The gags are bigger enough than real life that you can't believe that people are falling for 'em and the set designs -- these guys live inside of one of those balloon-like natural gas holding tanks -- is tremendously deco. It almost looks like a vaudevillian stage.

Jez and Dylan, for the most part, almost get away with it, until they discover that their hidden stash, 2 million Pounds Sterling, all in 50 Pound notes, is about to become worthless unless they can get it exchanged before a deadline. The deadline is 24 hours before they get out of jail.

Shooting Fish is a pleasant little toe tapper until you hit this point, then all hell breaks loose. Circumstances become even more unbelievable and riotous laughter should probably be spelled with a capital 'R'. A final scam is totally unbelievable, but it's pulled off with style and panache and you won't do a double take about the impossibility until you're long out of the theater.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Shooting Fish, he would have paid . . .

$4.00

Shooting Fish is a very pleasant film, but a wee bit heavy on the Brit. Every once in a while, one of these things breaks wide open, but this isn't the one. It's is a passable date flick. Definitely a vid to pop corn and cuddle in front of.


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