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The Importance Of Being Earnest

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Importance Of Being Earnest

Starring: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth
Director: Oliver Parker
Rated: PG
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey, Patrick Godfry, Charles Kay, Edward Fox

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Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Great play, great cast, mediocre movie. Writer-director Oliver Parker's last picture was the absolutely charming AN IDEAL HUSBAND, which was based on an Oscar Wilde play. Trying his luck again with another Wilde comedy, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, the director shoots and just misses. It's a fine line, but Parker makes Wilde's dry, sardonic wit just a bit too dry and too silly.

The killer cast of this comedy of manners and fake identities includes Rupert Everett (MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING), Colin Firth (BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY), Reese Witherspoon (LEGALLY BLONDE), Judi Dench (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE), Frances O'Connor (A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) and Tom Wilkinson (IN THE BEDROOM). All of the actors do everything that is asked of them, including some bizarre fantasy sequences set in Medieval Europe, which manage only to look weird.

Wilde's one-liners are terrific. "I do not approve of anything that interferes with natural ignorance," is one of the thoughts that Lady Bracknell (Dench) shares with Jack Worthing (Firth), a.k.a. Ernest, when he is applying for the position of future husband of Gwendolen Fairfax (O'Connor). Since the women in the story have taken a liking to the name Ernest, Algernon Moncrieff (Everett) tells Cecily Cardew (Witherspoon) that Ernest is his name.

Like a slightly wet firecracker, the movie needlessly fizzles more often that it sizzles. I can't quite recommend it, but, if you go, you'll probably enjoy at least parts of it.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST runs 1:40. It is rated PG for "mild sensuality" would be acceptable for all ages.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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