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The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Starring: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald
Director: Christopher Monger
Rated: PG
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: May 1995
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Colm Meaney, Ian McNeice, Ian Hart, Kenneth Griffith, Tudor Vaughn, Hugh Vaughn

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

THE ENGLISHMAN WHO WENT UP A HILL, BUT CAME DOWN A MOUNTAIN is one of those terminally cute, quirky British comedies. It is a movie populated with sweet, non-offensive characters. It is told as if it were a true story and yet the tone of the film is that of an Aesop fable. It is the sort of show that will undoubtedly work its charm on many of you.

Although the movie is billed as the latest Hugh Grant flick, it is an ensemble cast. Grant plays Reginald Anson who, with his coworker George Garrad (Ian McNeice), are English cartographers. They have been assigned by their government in 1917 to determine the exact height of the "first mountain in Wales". This first mountain is the one just over the Welsh border in Ffynnon Garw.

The townsfolk of Ffynnon Garw are proud of their mountain, but to be a government certified mountain, it must be at least 1,000 feet tall. The locals led by the local publican, Morgan the Goat (Colm Meaney), are aghast when Garrad and Anson declare their mountain to be just shy of 1,000 feet and hence must forever after must be known as merely a hill. Morgan enlists everyone, even his nemesis, the local preacher, Reverend Jones (Kenneth Griffith), and his favorite of his many girlfriends, Betty (Tara Fitzgerald), to implement his scheme to fix the problem. The movie is about the fix.

The story is predictable which is probably okay since it is a fable and not a mystery. The characters are all played with great and consistent gusto by all of the cast. My favorite was Tara Fitzgerald (from A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, SIRENS, HEAR MY SONG, "Cadfael" (TV), and "Fall from Grace" (TV)) who continues to impress me in how she can make a minor character so compelling. All she needs do is give her infectious smile at the right time and the screen lights up. Hugh Grant (so wonderful in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and SIRENS among others) gave a nice performance, but not his best.

The director (Christopher Monger) was in complete control and crafted a movie clearly reflecting what he had to set out to do. It is his goal and the script he wrote that was my problem with the picture. For me the characters, while cute, were not credible enough to be believable nor humorous enough to be funny. To me it was an attempt at droll humor that failed. I almost felt guilty about not caring more for a sweet little movie with carefully drawn characters, effective cinematography (Vernon Layton), and dramatic music (Stephen Endelman). I found the slow pacing by the editor (David Martin) and the low key tone of the dialog boring and even sleep inducing at points.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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