Sometimes when you see a movie, you’re just forced to wonder how such a talented group of performers can get something so very, very wrong just to keep from being bored senseless (or from crying). The Love Punch probably read on paper as a cutesy romp of a comedy for the retired set (in the vein of current successes like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), but it’s a banal, over the top comedy where the jokes aren’t funny and everything is lazy and half assed.
Richard (Pierce Brosnan) and Kate (Emma Thompson) are a divorced couple whose fiery banter suggests that the flames of their former relationship haven’t been fully extinguished.They try to navigate their respective single lives and both of their children having left the nest. However, it all changes when their retirement nest egg is wiped in out in an aggressive takeover of Richard’s company, leaving them penniless. With nothing to lose but their dignity, they scheme to steal a $10 million diamond that the French financier who defrauded them recently purchased for his girlfriend. The couple’s former neighbors and best friends (Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie), who are also rooting for the couple’s reconciliation, are roped into this heist. All of this adds some needed excitement to the humdrum that they are all feeling in retired life.
There’s an audience for this kind of film today with a better script and the same cast, but it still feels like a shitty romantic comedy from the mid-90’s done in British accents. It’s lowest common denominator filmmaking, that I have to believe half of the cast took because they shot half of the movie in the south of France and they all wanted a paid vacation. It’s “Adam Sandler goes to an exotic location” levels of awful.
Writer/director Joel Hopkins, who we last saw with 2008’s much better Last Chance Harvey, has created a niche for himself with these older skewing frumpy comedies but the comedy here is just so damn basic that we never have a reason to get invested in these characters and the characters aren’t even informed by any of the shenanigans. Rather than infusing their struggles with a little bit of wit and panache, we get tired jokes about young people not knowing about classic music and borderline offensive sight gags as Thompson has to get pummelled with a volleyball or be bad at parasailing. The film actually has to go so low as to remind us that old people have to pee a lot more than young people just to try for some desperate chuckles.. Every single person in this cast has been involved in comedy before and done miles better then the results we get here as the material lets them all down worse than they’re probably been let down before.
Brosnan is playing the charming, attractive but ultimately lost soul who finds out retirement and hitting the golf course every day isn’t what he dreamed it would be. He’s not doing anything new or exciting. Thompson can be a comedic firecracker ( if you question that check her out at the most recent Golden Globes presenting an award after a few cocktails), and she has great chemistry with Brosnan, but the material is just such a disappointment that even the fun you could tell that they were having while on set wasn’t enough to save this material. It’s borderline insulting to their intelligence. The usually great Spall and Imrie are wasted in thankless comedic relief roles. I just wanted them to get off the screen as quickly as possible. The final nail in this film’s already well sealed coffin comes in the form of the villainous French financier, played by Laurent Lafitte, who’s played too damn seriously when put into context of the rest of the material.
It’s a film that could never quite get the tone right, falling out of rhythm from the opening minutes. The Love Punch the farthest thing from a comedic knockout. A good, stiff wind should be able to knock this out of theatres in a fairly quick fashion.