Written by: Richard Curtis
Directed by: Mel Smith
Starring: Emma Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Rowan Atkinson
Released by: Miramax
My Advice: Rent it.
Dexter King’s (Goldblum) life is at a low point. He’s been the suffering barely-noticed straight man to the egomaniacal comic Ron Anderson (Atkinson) for over six years; he’s been dating a succession of increasing insane women, and his hay fever has reached Category 5 strength. The cure is a series of injections, and his fear of needles is overcome by his fascination with the lovely nurse Kate Lemmon (Thompson) administering them. Because of or despite his inept and idiotic attempts to get a date, Kate takes pity on him and decides to give him a go. After having the most destructive sex they’ve ever experienced, they become a couple. With romantic success comes professional success: he’s just been cast as the lead in the new musical based on the life of John Merrick, the “Elephant Man.” Will Dexter screw up his big chance, will Kate forgive him if he does, and what is with the singing underwear?
[ad#longpost]The Tall Guy tries to be a silly romantic comedy and a satire of the British entertainment scene and while it’s not a perfect match, it still produces some laughs. The romantic comedy part suffers because you keep wondering what the Thompson character, who is a sensible, insightful individual, sees in Goldblum’s character, who is a total mess. Still, they make a cute pair with some decent chemistry.
The satire of the British stage is much more pointed. The best is Elephant!, the aforementioned musical. It is a definite slap in the face to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and his overblown, special effect laden spectacles. With musical numbers like the grand finale Somewhere in Heaven, There’s an Angel with Big Ears and line dancing elephant men, it actually predicted the trend in theaters of adapting films for the Broadway stage, a la The Producers and Hairspray. There are also funny portrayals of common stage archetypes: the drunken, over the hill veteran, the slutty ingÃ©nue who has to have sex with her leading man, and the over-enthusiastic director suffering from the delusion that he’s creating a masterpiece.
Most of the cast is British and being British they do a good job in the film. I don’t know if it’s the accent or if it’s because they invented the language, but British actors seem to be a better quality. Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson are just brilliant. Atkinson handles physical comedy easily as he excels at playing characters who are total bastards, know they are total bastards, and enjoy every minute of their bastardry (See the Blackadder series, it’s a moral imperative). You’ll wish you could see more of The Rubber Pants Review, the comedy cabaret that is at times more entertaining than the movie. And after seeing this film you will see that Thompson is wasted in period costume dramas. She’s hilarious. She plays Nurse Lemmon with equal parts practicality and whimsy. The matter-of-fact way she describes how she has sex on the first date to find out if all the future expensive dinners are worth it is a perfect example. She never goes overboard with her performance, unlike Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum plays his character like a caricature of Jeff Goldblum. Wild hand gestures, odd speech patterns, and his geeky appearance are just too much, more so when compared to Thompson’s or Atkinson’s performance. He’s such an oddball; you wonder why any woman would be with him.
There are no features on the disc, but this isn’t the kind of movie that calls for any interesting additions. The Tall Guy is a fun weekend rental, nothing more, nothing less.