Somewhere in England, in the Autumn of 1955, a widowed father and his son live an idyllic life together. Only their gas station happens to sit on a piece of land that a local developer ... See full summary »
Somewhere in England, in the Autumn of 1955, a widowed father and his son live an idyllic life together. Only their gas station happens to sit on a piece of land that a local developer wants to buy. And when he won't take no for an answer, and sets government inspectors and social works onto Danny and his father, Danny and his father decide to get even with Hazell and his pheasant- shooting friends in a manner in keeping with their own family tradition. Written by
A bit too slight and perhaps not enough for modern audiences but still an OK old-fashioned family film
It is 1955 and Danny and his father William live in a caravan beside their garage in the middle of an estate being bought up by Victor Hazell so that he can turn the woods into housing estates. When William refuses to sell his property to Hazell, the latter starts to put other pressures on William to get off the land and let him have it to complete his dream development a conflict not helped by the fact that William poaches off Hazell's land. Hazell's plan is to weasel up to the local gentry with a great pheasant shoot an event that he obviously needs lots of pheasants for, a fact that Danny and his father are keen to exploit to get their own back on the unscrupulous fellow.
Although I have read the book as a child, it hasn't stuck in my mind the way that other, more imaginative Roald Dahl stories have. Watching the film decades later it is clear to me why I enjoyed it but also why it failed to make a lasting impression on me because, although it is a solid family film, it is far too slight and unremarkable to make for a great tale. The film does struggle with this and as a result it rarely engaged or interested me in the way it could have done but it did still manage to be an entertaining little family film. The story is quite ordinary and the rather ordinary delivery doesn't help; I suspect it is this that modern audiences will have problems with certainly it isn't as smart and flashy as children raised on Toy Story et al will be used to. However despite that it is still quite an enjoyable little tale.
The cast match the natural and wholesome feel of the film. The father/son chemistry between the two Irons is unsurprisingly easy and I quite enjoyed both their performances. Irons senior is gentle and enjoyable and, although his son is not a great actor, he isn't stretched here and fits the role well. Coltrane is enjoyable despite having a fairly simple role to play with and Cusack completes the family set-up with his performance. Nail, Jeffries and a few others all help to add a sense of fun to the film by virtue of their presence in the films.
Overall this is a wholesome and quite old-fashioned family film that will provide a cosy evening in front of the telly despite being a bit too simple to please demanding children. It is all a bit slight and unspectacular but it is fun nonetheless and is worth seeing if you are in the mood and can cope with the rather coying touch of old fashioned sentiment that runs through it.
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