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Dylan and Jez are con artists, Dylan is a charming American who's run from some characters in the states and Jez is an English techno nerd. During one of their scams selling a voice recognition computer they hire Georgie as a secretary for the job. The romantic triangle between Dylan, Jez and Georgie appears, but she is also not a secretary, but a student, and her marriage with rich Roger is upcoming. Written by
Take a couple of con men who see an opportunity to separate a mark from his money in just about everything, throw in an attractive young woman with an altruistic agenda, blend together for about ninety-three minutes and the result is `Shooting Fish,' an amiable, entertaining comedy, directed by Stefan Schwartz. It's the story of two guys who grew up in orphanages on opposite sides of the ocean, Dylan (Dan Futterman) in America, Jez (Stuart Townsend) in England; and who, by the time they had reached the age of consent, had each been endowed with a particular talent: Dylan has the gift of gab, Jez is a technical wizard. Dylan's gift has quickly gotten him into hot water with the wrong kind of people, however, and to stay healthy (read: `Alive') he flees to England, where he meets Jez. And it's a friendship/partnership born in scam/scheme heaven. If there's a way to make a fast buck, they know it-- from selling bogus computers, to selling insulation for homes that's never installed, to entering any and every contest that comes down the pike. If there's a nickel in it, they're in.
Then one day they hire a girl from the temp pool to help them out with one of their scams. Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) is beautiful, smart, and has a cause she's trying to fund, so she needs the job; but from day one she's on to what Dylan and Jez are trying to pull. She stays on board, however, when Dylan convinces her that they are something like modern day Robin Hoods-- that the money they're `raising' is going to orphans. What he doesn't tell her is that the `orphans' he's referring to is them. And Dylan is a born salesman-- not to mention the fact that he's a real charmer-- and the three of them become a real team.
Schwartz delivers a film that is in no way exceptional nor particularly memorable, but it is entertaining. It's exactly what it promises to be: a diverting hour and a half or so that provides some laughs and a good time. It's pleasant fare that's inoffensive and features some engaging performances and a story that will keep you involved. There are a couple of scenes, in fact, that are downright hilarious. And Schwartz has good timing and sets a pace that keeps it all moving right along, which, when you add it all up, makes for a satisfying, enjoyable experience.
Futterman has a winning personality and a resonant, mesmerizing voice that fits his character perfectly. Dylan is the salesman you hope you'll never meet, because if you do, chances are you'll walk away with the deed to the bridge. He's a likable heel, convincingly brought to life by Futterman (who is probably best known for his role of Vincent Gray in the `Judging Amy' TV series). It's a good performance, and one of the strengths of the film.
As Jez, Townsend does a fine job, too, and though he's overshadowed a bit by Dylan-- intentionally the flashier of the two-- Jez is the one who secures the sympathy of the audience. After all, this is the guy who at least seems a bit remorseful as he's taking other people's money and trust. And it's interesting to compare Townsend's fairly reserved performance here with his role of the vampire Lestat in the more recent `Queen of the Damned.' He's a fine young actor whose style contrasts nicely with Futterman, and along with Beckinsale they make quite the team of scam artists.
The one who draws the attention, however, is the lovely and charismatic Kate Beckinsale, who is beguiling in the role of Georgie. She makes her character accessible, and plays her with a savvy, rather than naive sensibility, and it's a portrayal that works well. Most importantly, she makes Georgie real, with a winsome appeal that makes you care about her and what happens to her. She's the most grounded of the trio, and it's her character that keeps the story within the realm of credibility. This may not be the stuff Oscars are made of, but it's an enjoyable, engaging performance that will win you over, without question.
The supporting cast includes Rowena Cooper (Jez's Teacher), Myles Anderson (Jez, aged 8), Jacob Macoby (Dylan, aged 8), Jane Lapotaire (Dylan's Headmistress), Tom Chadbon (Mr. Greenaway), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Ross), Peter McNamara (Geoff), Arabella Weir (Mrs. Stratton-Luce), Nickolas Grace (Mr. Stratton-Luce) and Claire Cox (Floss). An easy-going comedy with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes, `Shooting Fish' is a solid, feel good film that will put a smile on your face and provide a pleasant evening's entertainment. And in the final analysis, that's not such a bad deal; and it's all a part of the magic of the movies. I rate this one 7/10.
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