'The Love Punch'
Some movies aren’t just bad, they’re embarrassing. ‘The Love Punch’ is so horribly ill-conceived that it’s actually painful to watch. You feel humiliated for all of the actors involved like concerned parents watching their children stumble miserably through a school play.
It’s hard to say why Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson agreed to be in this terrible comedy. They can’t be that desperate for work. Maybe writer/director Joel Hopkins (‘Last Chance Harvey’) managed to blackmail the two stars, or perhaps they both took the job as a paid vacation to France in the hopes that no one would ever see the final film. Regardless, the pair of once beloved British icons have teamed up for what is easily the low point in both their respective careers. [Ed.: Worse than Brosnan’s turn in ‘Mamma Mia!’? Hard to imagine. –JZ]
The genre of gentle old age comedies like ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ might be tepid at the best of times, but ‘The Love Punch’ takes things to a whole new level of awfulness. It almost feels like a movie made by people who have only heard about what a comedy is supposed to be in vague terms and tried to cobble something together from a collection of unused gags by the likes of Benny Hill and Carrot Top. The only appropriate reaction to the film is to huddle in a ball beneath your seat and whimper until it’s over. Well, either that or completely avoid the movie in the first place. Actually, go with the second option.
Brosnan and Thompson star as a cordially divorced couple whose genteel lifestyle is rudely interrupted when some dastardly French businessman buys and ruins Brosnan’s company, completely destroying their retirement plans. However, rather than just sit around and take it, the duo fly to France to set things right. That leads to a series of stupid slapstick sequences and French stereotypes, until they find out that the evil man is getting married and his fiancée just happens to have a $10 million diamond necklace. So, in between jokes about how old people don’t know how to work cell phones or the internet, they decide to steal the necklace. They bring their neighbors Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie along to the wedding, where they all pose as cousins from Texas to bring in one more round of stereotype jokes. If you’re worried that there won’t be any fart or poop jokes along the way, you can calm down because there are plenty. And if you haven’t figured out by now that the excellent adventure will bring the divorcees back together, then chances are you haven’t seen a movie before (a quality you might share with the filmmakers who allowed this atrocity to happen).
Now, obviously this is a very gentle light comedy that goes out of its way to be inoffensive and heartwarming. Theoretically, it’s such a harmless movie that there’s really no need to get upset about its existence. However, when you get two underused and charming comedy leads like Brosnan and Thompson, only to shove them into a comedy as lifeless, clichéd, dull and predictable as ‘The Love Punch’, it’s such a distressingly wasted opportunity that it’s hard not to be deeply annoyed as a viewer. Those actors are so much better than this material (as are Spall and Imrie for that matter) and watching them feign interest in such a pitiful project is painful if you have any affinity for the performers. You’ll wish you could give them a hug and tell them that everything will be OK by the time the credits roll. Aside from wasting his cast, Hopkins does such an amateurish job staging, pacing and crafting the film that one would hope he gets locked up in director jail with no chance for parole.
This might be a particularly harsh review, but the movie deserves it. It’s a shame that the hard work of the cast, crew and even the caterers was wasted on a project so thoroughly devoid of merit. ‘The Love Punch’ is a deep embarrassment for all concerned that should have been shoved in a drawer somewhere and never inflicted upon the public. At least it’s guaranteed to vanish into obscurity in a manner of minutes.