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An Awfully Big Adventure
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Reviews & Ratings for
An Awfully Big Adventure More at IMDbPro »

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38 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Depressing Themes Overcome by Great Storytelling

8/10
Author: gws-2 from United States
8 March 2002

"An Awfully Big Adventure" is a story of a naive 16 year old girl, wonderfully played by Georgiana Cates, and her interaction with the members of a bottom-of-the-line stock company in 1947 Liverpool. The Liverpool actors are lead by an incredibly nasty, chain-smoking homosexual director, played by Hugh Grant in what may have been the best performance of his career. Their star, "Perhaps the best Captain Hook ever," is played by Alan Rickman in yet another stellar performance. This is a consistently entertaining but very, very cynical coming of age story. Thus, it may not be for all tastes. Nevertheless, I recommended it highly, 8 out of 10.

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26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A convoluted but cogent look at theatre and actors

8/10
Author: Malette from Kure Beach, NC, USA
22 August 2000

The real hub around which this movie moves is not Hugh Grant or Alan Rickman but Georgina Cates as Stella, an unpaid sixteen year old student who is not only stagestruck but enamored of Meredith Potter (Hugh Grant), the cruel and thoughtless director who is more interested in boys.

Stella, ignorant of most of life, is unaware of his predilictions and so ill-informed she is afraid she might have a venereal disease from touching a man with her hand. Having been abandoned by her mother (who is the voice on the phone giving the time), she is being raised by her aunt and uncle, well-meaning people who love her but have no idea of what to do with her or tell her. Eventually she is seduced by P.L. O'Hara (Alan Rickman), who has come to Liverpool to play Captain Hook but also to once again look for the woman who bore him a child many years before. He imagines he has a son and that belief allows him to continue, despite his lack of self worth.

He eventually succumbs to his own predilictions when he pursues Stella. She, having no idea of sex other than as something to be done to her, is a slow learner but eventually says that like "learning a ukelele, it takes practice." The Grant character is so thoroughly despicable it proves once and for all that Hugh Grant can, in fact, act. Rickman gives a well done, mostly underplayed performance, not even having a line in the first four scenes he is in. Georgina Cates is the real jewel here, with a combination of naivete and boldness, along with a girlish charm which makes Stella believable as well as pathetic. Not the greatest movie made but a well done, well cast piece of work by professionals with a sense of purpose. See it! But not for the children.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Off-beat little gem

Author: DeeDee-10 from San Francisco
25 August 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A bitter-sweet film with comic moments, especially the amazing performance by Hugh Grant. I missed a few priceless quips because I couldn't quite get the meaning because of the dialect, but a replay solved that problem. Georgina Cates was so beguiling and wistful in her role. I hope to see more of her. And what a treat to see Rita Rushingham if only in an underwritten, restrained part. Alan Rickman tortured response to the twist (twisted?) event which occurs in the film was difficult to watch. What a brilliant, subtle, internalized reaction in the living room of Stella's uncle -a fine piece of acting!

This is a must for Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman fans!

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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Don't expect it to be cute

Author: Spamlet from NYC
23 September 2002

The likely reason people don't like this film is because it was released by Miramax who are infamous for mis-marketing their tough sell pictures ("Muriel's Wedding" was a feel good, laugh a minute romantic comedy? "Captives" was a thriller!). This movie isn't a sweet coming of age story. It's a devastating account of a young woman's loss of innocence in a cruel world.

I tend to really like the movies most people find too depressing. Like the ancient Greeks I find human tragedy the greatest form of emotional catharsis. If you are the same way I recommend this film highly.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

One to see, especially for Rickman Fans

Author: marshalmcgavin
5 June 2003

Shame on all of those who gave most of the plot away. This is a worthwhile film, one I have seen at least twice and will watch any time it is on. True, I am a fan of Alan Rickman, but it goes beyond that. As a slice of British theatre life it is up there with "The Dresser" and is about as depressing. A romp it is not, but so what? Was it marketed badly? Yes, perhaps. But it is well acted, tightly directed and even fun to watch at times. It doesn't end well, but as Brad Pitt said in character in "The Devil's Own" ... "this isn't an American story." Hooray for that.

As a character study of several people, it is about as good as it gets, although I might want a little more depth, especially on Rickman's character. He is gentlemen enough to be destroyed by what he does in the end and it enobles his character. I enjoyed watching Hugh Grant, who is a delightful man in person and not quite the twit he often plays, cast against type as a nasty, bitchy queen. Yeah, he can act. So what if they pay him a lot of money to be himself, more or less, most of the time? When pressed, he can deliver.

If you like Grant and Rickman, you can't go wrong. If you like dark stories of behind-the-scenes theatre life, this is a good 'un for you. And young Ms. Cates, married to Skeet Ulrich gives a great performance, even if she had to lie her way into the part.

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19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

The Show Must Go On

Author: Mimi-16 from USA
31 July 2002

I've been curious about this movie for a long time. I finally saw it on IFC.

It was great! In this age of VERY expensive, predictable, committee-approved "art", I was relieved to watch this story unfold. Although I suspected early on about the relationship between Cates and Rickman's characters, it's execution was much better than the usual pap that pretends to be a surprise or twist.

Or even interesting.

The real twists in this story, was its own mirror of the real human forces and decisions that keep some of the sweetest, and unfortunately, worst stories going on. The twists were the tiny reasons why such things, sometimes painful and abhorrent to our collective cultural sense of what's right and decent in a society, to continue within it.

The hypocrisy of denying that these dark parts of ourselves exist often cause them to continue. Often times, the self-appointed moral-police of our culture make this inevitable in their pursuit of human frailty, the aftermath of its hunt, and the white-washing of the events (and non-events) they discovered.

No character represented total evil, good, decadence or purity, including Stella. She had as much (subtle) emotional weaponry with her, as she had emotional scars.

Many Americans don't like, or have been trained (over time) to not have patience for such imperfect main-characters in fiction anymore. The one-dimensional, mass-marketed character, is the norm here now.

That's sad. Because of that, this movie (and others like it) didn't do very well here.

Having this story take place within the entertainment industry is an excellent way of displaying so much of the world's human tragedy AND stupidity being covered up by some people's treachery, some people's nobility, or a combination of both.

And even at the end of this tale, all of the stage crew, like life itself, executed their own particular versions of the adage, "The show must go on."

No perfect hollywood story here, with it's base and stupid doling out of come-uppance of everyone's flaws...or Evil.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

unusual theatre drama

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
15 November 2003

Young stage-struck Stella (Georgina Cates) has bright dyed red hair and lives with her aunt and uncle (Rita Tushingham and Alun Armstrong, both very good) in run-down Liverpool. She joins a theatre group where she isn't required to do very much and develops a crush on vain director Meredith (Hugh Grant, better than usual) and a half-contempt for the other members of the company (including a wicked parody of the professional ham from Edward Petherbridge). When flamboyant actor PL O'Hara (Alan Rickman, excellent) arrives to play Captain Hook in a new production of Peter Pan, his fate becomes entangled with Stella's in a way neither of them could have predicted. This movie veers from a sharp set of character studies of provincial theatre to a weird and twisted love story with a tragic resolution. Aside from the main story, there are two lovely support roles for Prunella Scales and Peter Firth. The one problem in the cast is Cates, whose background was in TV sitcom and it shows.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

unique

10/10
Author: Sky from London
28 September 2002

I liked the film and, though I'm sure there were countless other ways that they could've still retained its twisted plot in a more concise way, I enjoyed the uniqueness of its story. It was certainly a sad story and it did catch me by surprise. Alan Rickman was terrific, but I wish I could've seen more of his character because for the amount of time he's in the film it simply wasn't enough, especially since he appeared to be a main character. However, it was entertaining and I really liked it and its originality.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

This film has its problems, but is very worthwhile.

10/10
Author: hughsreviews from NYNY
6 September 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Even as a genre (black humor), this movie comes off with only two stars. Incest is never funny, is I guess my reasoning. Also, the film is confusing. It may take several viewings to fully understand and appreciate the action. A note: I've seen it on tape and on cable TV, and for some reason, every time, the sound has been so bad, much of the dialogue is unintelligible.

In spite of all that, if you have any interest at all in any member of the cast, or in postwar British theater, or just in the theater in general, you should see it.

Basically every performance in this movie is brilliant, especially Alan Rickman, Peter Firth, Georgina Cates and, my favorite actor, Hugh Grant.

This film is a must see for anyone who thinks Mr. Grant is a "wooden" actor, or always plays a "hesitant Englishman" (A ridiculous charge made by people who have seen only a fraction of his acting output).

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Adorable blokes, aren't they?

10/10
Author: Lolita99 from Cleveland, OH
18 July 1999

I particulary enjoyed this film. I thought Hugh Grant did a great and decidedly out-of-turn portrayal of the deviant Meredith. Alan Rickman looked so cool on that motorcycle it wasn't even funny. The lighting in this film was excellent, and it's portrayal of petty theatre politics was pretty accurate even by modern standards. Georgina Cates was a wonderful Stella and the plot was well-developed. It seems as though most English adaptations of books tend to be better cinematically than original American films. Go figure.

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