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The Tall Guy (1989)

R  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  21 September 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 3,676 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 12 critic

Dexter King plays straight man to unpleasant comedian Ron Anderson. He falls in love with Kate, a pretty nurse he meets when he is receiving injections for hay fever. When Anderson fires ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Emil Wolk ...
Harold Innocent ...
Joanna Kanska ...
Peter Kelly ...
Tim Barlow ...
Mr. Morrow (as Timothy Barlow)
Hugh Thomas ...
Dr. Karabekian
Charles Augins ...
Peter Brewis ...
Joolia Cappleman ...
Costume Designer


Dexter King plays straight man to unpleasant comedian Ron Anderson. He falls in love with Kate, a pretty nurse he meets when he is receiving injections for hay fever. When Anderson fires him, he acquires the title role in a musical stage version of "The Elephant Man". Kate dumps him when she suspects he is having an affair with a fellow cast member, and he must win her back. Written by Alexander Lum <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 September 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A nagy balek  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$510,712 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name "Ron Anderson" is remarkably similar to the name of the actor who plays him, Rowan Atkinson. One of the other contenders for the award that Anderson won was Griff Rhys Jones, the "Jones" half of the comedy duo Smith & Jones (1984). Mel Smith (the Smith half) directed the film. Smith, Jones and Atkinson starred together in the television series Not the Nine O'Clock News (1979). Also, Anderson refers to his side-kick (Jeff Goldblum) on stage as "Perkins". When performing live, Atkinson frequently uses Angus Deayton as his sidekick who is always called "Perkins". Deayton makes a small appearance in the film as an actor looking at several excellent roles while Dexter gets offered a single role as a tall American. See more »


Cheryl trails her fingers across the piano keys; the sound is not heard until after the cutaway. See more »


Mary: Well, the only other thing at the moment is a new musical that the RSC are doing.
Dexter: Er, what's it about?
Mary: The Elephant Man.
Dexter: A musical of the Elephant Man? What's it called?
Mary: "Elephant", I think - with an exclamation mark presumably.
Dexter: Pity the poor bastard who has to play the elephant.
Mary: Remember dearest, everyone thought Jesus Christ Superstar was a stupid idea.
Dexter: Jesus Christ Superstar WAS a stupid idea.
Mary: True.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Michael Fitzgerald's full credit in the movie is "Man with vacuum cleaner tube up his bottom." See more »


Featured in 100 Greatest Sexy Moments (2003) See more »


La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie)
Music by Gioachino Rossini
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User Reviews

Ironically, its Rowan who plays the straight man in Richard Curtis' fictionalised version of his frustration playing straight man for Rowan.

Richard Curtis has written some impressive romantic comedies (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones, Love Actually) and had his hand in the writing of some of the top British TV comedy of our time (Mr Bean, Not the 9 O'Clock news, Blackadder). This was one of his first scripts to be turned into a feature film.

He wrote this script about his own experience playing straight man to Rowan Atkinson on his early tours. Curtis was frustrated in real life with being under the shadow of Atkinson, but the script obviously makes a caricature out of this by turning Atkinson into a terrible, nasty villain. But, Rowan fans beware, this is not as fun as it sounds. The unkindest touch of all was added by Rowan himself. He makes himself appear completely unfunny. He plays his backstage self without a touch of humour or subversion - one would almost swear that Rowan just really was a nasty bast*rd.

But anyone who's seen Rowan's stage shows, or Not the 9 O'Clock News, knows that Rowan can play a bastard with ironic humour, where we know he's only kidding - on stage, Rowan specialised in bastards like the vicars and schoolmasters he's played, and nobodies like Mr Bean. Here, Rowan knew it was important for the story for Rowan to not actually be funny, and the straight man to actually be funny. Plus, we need to root for the straight man (played by Jeff Golblum). Rowan's being a villain is the story's main source of conflict and dramatic tension. Without it, there isn't a story. So Rowan has, ironically, done a brave and humble thing by agreeing to play it completely straight, humourless and cold - and he shows himself a really good dramatic actor (though the experience may be disheartening for Rowan fans).

So if you're a Rowan fan, this will not be for you. If you're a Richard Curtis fan, this is a fairly simple and conventional script, but its quite a fun romantic comedy nonetheless. Emma Thomson is suitably cold and severe, and Jeff Golblum makes a good everyman. 6/10.

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