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Shooting Fish

Rated R, 103 min. Directed by Stefan Schwartz. Starring Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend, Kate Beckinsale, Nickolas Grace, Claire Cox, Ralph Ineson, Dominic Mafham, Peter Capaldi.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 22, 1998

This frothy, pop confection from the U.K. could be construed as echoing the upbeat, changing moods abroad these days, what with the Tories out and Labor in and London the capital of all things cool and hip once more. Then again, you could take it as just another treacly sweet cinematic pastry from Cool Britannia. There's not much of substance going on here, but it sure looks good going down. Geeky Jez (Townsend) and ladykiller Dylan (Futterman) are two twentysomething con men working out of an abandoned oil tank outside London. Raised as wards of the state, the pair grew up dreaming of someday owning a home to call their own, and not just any home at that: The properties they dream of are huge, towering, baronial mansions, and to this end they've dedicated their lives to bilking the wealthy and putting aside their swindled fortunes with the hope of securing their much sought-after homestead. Once within the $50,000 mark of their goal, the pair take on a third party in the form of Beckinsale's Georgie, a medical school student in need of some quick cash to save her family's home for children with Down syndrome (seriously). Acting as the pair's unofficial secretary, Georgie soon realizes that she's in the employ of a pair of self-obsessed Robin Hoods and bails out; as quick as you can say “waif,” though, Beckinsale's back, aiding, abetting, and hoping that the pair's ultimate scam can assist her own monetary and philanthropic endeavors. There is, of course, a good bit of flirting going on among the trio, and nobody flirts better than Beckinsale these days (with Gwyneth Paltrow running a close second). Before long, she's fallen for the computer-whiz kid Jez, and it's an ongoing battle of the Doe-Eyed to see who will experience a cuteness meltdown first. Director Schwartz has created a bit of a throwback to groovier times in Shooting Fish; from its jaunty pop-music score to cinematographer Henry Braham's breezy, madcap shooting style, it's all very retro, and very swinging Sixties, with bubbling, lava lamp titles and gobs of primary colors splashed every which way. Cotton candy for the senses, Shooting Fish is a predictable affair that nonetheless ingratiates itself into your good fortunes by sheer virtue of its amiable nuttiness. It's mindless fun while it lasts, but then poof! it's gone.
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