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Shooting Fish

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Shooting Fish

Starring: Dan Futterman, Kate Beckinsale
Director: Stefan Schwartz
Rated: PG
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: May 1998
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Suspense

*Also starring: Stuart Townsend, Nicholas Grace

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Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

leads, a reviewer feels a certain undeniable guilt when he doesn't care much for it. Moreover, when you have a picture that has nothing wrong with it, just not enough right with it, the guilt of giving it a mediocre review increases. All of this notwithstanding, SHOOTING FISH starts well enough but runs completely out of ideas by the midway point. After that, director Stefan Schwartz just runs out the clock until he brings the film in at a minimal length of an hour and a half. If ever there was a case for a cute short film, this is it.

"I owed a lot of money to big guys with hairy shoulders," Dylan (Dan Futterman) explains why their life of crime begin. He and his partner Jez (Stuart Townsend) are non-stop swindlers. Self-described Robin Hoods, they steal from the rich, which generally means the middle-class, to give to the orphans, which means them. Their goal is a stately home for themselves - something on the order of Blenheim. As a temp, they hire a bright-eyed medical student named Georgia, played charmingly by Kate Beckinsale, who was Emma in last year's television mini-series of the same name.

Ah, the scams they pull off. Although they attempt con games large and small, the show opens on one of their most masterful. They bring in company executives for a demonstration of their sixth generation computer system. Complete with the most amazing and accurate speech input and output system, the machines can be held for just a ten percent deposit, payable immediately. Like the nineteenth century chess playing machines all done with a hidden human chess expert, their computers are controlled remotely by Jez and Georgia while Dylan oozes charm out of every pore talking to the clients. Who couldn't believe such a bright young salesman with such an incredible product?

Another confidence game has them selling the same batch of insulation to every household in a row of homes. Since the homes are joined together, they sneak the materials from house to house through the attics after collecting their fee. In the movie's best scene, they ore chased by a dozen suits who are on to them. In unison, all of the professionals pull out their personal digital assistants and record the license number of the crook's (stolen) van.

By the middle, with the writers having used up all of their ideas for petty thievery, we're down to listening to comedic small talk and admiring the, admittedly fascinating, set decoration by Max Gottlieb from THE FULL MONTY. Dylan and Jez share an apartment that is, in equal parts, science fair, flea market, greenhouse, appliance workshop and palace. Still, one nice set and few comedy sketches does not a full-length movie make. Or shouldn't.

Copyright 1998

When a movie like SHOOTING FISH has a big heart and three likable Steve Rhodes

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