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The Search for John Gissing is a fast paced film which would probably have
been more suited to an audience in the 1970s than the modern day. The
20 minutes or so were for this watcher, quite mortifying with Mike Binder
doing what to all intent purposes seemed to be a representation of Woody
Allen. That is fine if you like Woody Allen, but I don't...
However, after the opening sequence, the film picked up considerably with the best comedic scenes being reserved (seperately) for Alan Rickman and Janeane Garofalo. In fact, it was a shame they had so few scenes together as it would probably have made the film a lot funnier. Alan Rickman seems to be enjoying the migration from much-loved villain and period actor to contemporary comedian and he successfully adds a lot of warmth and humour to this film. Janeane Garofalo was under-utlised in this film, seeming to only play an exasperated straightman to the angst of Mike Binder's character. The rest of the supporting cast were great - although I would love to meet a London taxi driver which will take someone all over London for 35 pounds...
All in all, this is a warm and funny movie which will probably not get the recognition it deserves. However, this is a must see for Alan Rickman fans as he really is very good in this comedic role!
In this film, Mike Binder (who also directed) is an American businessman
named Matthew Barnes who just arrived in London with his wife (played by
Janeane Garofalo), where Matthew is supposed to take over the final
negotiations for a big merger with a German firm. Unfortunately, all of the
arrangements were made by John Gissing (Alan Rickman), who feels passed
for the job and sabotages Matthew at every turn. Another key character is
their boss, Francois (played by Allan Corduner, who played Sullivan in
All of the characters are interesting, as is the direction and editing (which features lots of jump cuts). All in all I was pleasantly surprised given the poor review I had read in the local newspaper. Seen at Cinequest (the San Jose, CA film festival), where it was the opening night film on 2/21/2002.
This film is HILARIOUS!!! One of the funniest comedies I have seen in a long, long time. Director/screenwriter Mike Binder has created a masterpiece with this film. Starring Mike Binder in the lead role as Matthew, the fumbling corporate lackey sent to England to relocate with his wife, a splendid Janeane Garofalo, the comedy of errors does not stop for this poor man. Alan Rickman stars as John Gissing, the sabotaging company man who is about to be ousted by the very person he is to train to replace him - and thus makes every attempt to sidetrack Matthew. Not since "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" has there been this many natural comedic outlays. The story, the characters, the interactions - it all works, and very well. Brilliant! A must see!!
I sought this out first and foremost for Alan Rickman, and I wasn't
disappointed. He gets so few opportunities to play comedy and that's
really a crime. At one point I literally spit across the room from
laughing so hard (fortunately wasn't eating at the time). Janeane is
her standard delightfully sarcastic self, though tragically underused.
This seems to be all about Mike Binder playing Woody Allen (I'm really
not that into either actor). Some scenes are obviously only a setup to
one key line for him to say. The jump cuts mentioned earlier I thought
at first were an artistic attempt, but eventually get very, very
The DVD has an impressive amount of extras for being privately released, no complaints there. The supporting actors were all very good, but really the only reason to see this is for Mr. Rickman's performance. This has easily shot to the top three in my collection of his films.
I went into this to see one of Mrs. Garofalo's rare film titles not
expecting anything but maybe a reality bites type of film. What I got
was a fantastic surprise.
I will admit the first half of this film got annoying because Mike Binder's constant complaining about the situation wore on me but when he and Gissing meet, hold onto your seat, your gonna laugh. Binder sure picked a great supporting cast to round out this little gem. Alan Rickman is a comic genius in this one. He's the star of this w/o a doubt. In the beginning you will loathe him but in the end you'll be rooting for him. Every character in this is funny. Every actor was casted perfectly for this film.
How this film slipped under the radar and isn't any bigger than it is is a surprise to me. It's an absolute winner. If your bored one night and are searchin your netflix cue, browse to this title and wait for it...your gonna love it.
I am writing about a film, The search for john gissing which i saw
so long ago. I went on my own, as a lover of Alan Rickman, my friends do
see the attraction to this mans work like I. I sat, and enjoyed with
laughter. The direction of the film was unique, giving a comical view to
everything, gittered movements, and camera angles added amusement. The
performance of all of the actors were supurb, from extras to the main cast
its self. A totally enjotable film!
"The Search for John Gissing" is a 2001 comedy starring Mike Binder,
Janeane Garofalo, and Alan Rickman.
Matthew Barnes and his wife Linda come to London, where Matthew is going to oversee a merger of a British company with the Germans. The man who has rented a house for them and is going to pick them up at the airport is one John Gissing (Rickman) who doesn't show up at the airport. They reach him, and he apologizes, and sends them to a hotel where he has a room reserved for them. The room turns out to be for someone else, and the Barnes' can't get a room because Gissing maxed out their credit cards when he rented them a house. The couple winds up staying with a nun who, while Linda is in the shower, makes a pass at Matthew.
It doesn't take Barnes long to figure out that John Gissing is out to destroy him. It turns out that Gissing was passed over for this assignment and feels threatened. Barnes turns the tables on him.
Lots of this film is very funny, with a crackerjack performance by Rickman, who is hilarious. Mike Binder is possibly a devotee of Woody Allen - this is Binder's film, and it's not dissimilar to an Allen film, nor are his line readings. Janeane Garofalo as his discouraged wife is very good.
This film didn't get a general release, apparently. It's hard to understand why since it is at least a cut above some of the dreck that passes for comedy today. I suspect if Ben Stiller had made it, the film wouldn't have had that problem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I like The Search for John Gissing, but I suspect that's mainly because
I like Alan Rickman - I doubt I'd have found it very interesting
Firstly, it's very old-fashioned in many ways - Mike Binder (who wrote, directed and played Matthew Barnes) can throw around corporate buzzwords all he likes, but they don't stop the film being a strange hybrid of the eighties Wall Street yuppie drama and a Carry On film. It's gimmicky too - you quickly get bored of "I'm from Chicago, so...", and the nun thing with Giles Hannigan (played by Owen Teale) is excruciating. The plot is all very far-fetched; if you can't suspend disbelief and ignore this, you really shouldn't watch this film.
It's also very disjointed; for example, it's not clear until the summing-up at the very end that Mary the stripper/nun (played by Sonya Walger) IS actually Gissing's girlfriend. It's not central to the plot, but not knowing sort of niggles at you. Similarly, Dexter the taxi driver seems to go from cynically exploiting the Barneses to being their best friend in between scenes and in the space of ten minutes, and you kind of have to just mentally shrug and go "oh... OK then" to get around it.
Some of the writer's constructs are far too visible for comfort; for example, it's very clear that Gwyneth Moore (played - bizarrely - by Juliet Stevenson, who I can only assume became involved through Rickman) is going through a divorce simply so that Francois Feulliere can mention it and show the audience he's a baddie... it has not the smallest bearing on the story. There's also a Mancunian cousin of Gissing's shipped in for no clear reason other than to let Barnes break into Gissing's house, attack the wrong person and look a little silly. Why this person had to be a cousin, a Northerner, a bit dim and a boxer is unclear - it's a lot of detail to write in for one punch, which is all the character really contributes. This seems to be a common theme though; Johanna Frielduct, the insane German lady, serves no purpose either - which you'd mind less if she was funny. Binder's speech about business being the new war is just plain painful - I advise you to fast- forward it, you're only missing a fairly pithy and oh-so-American bit of slush tacked on to give "depth" to a character who would have been more likable without it.
The ending is pretty unsatisfying too; the audience is being dragged along in a fully-fledged, high-speed "caper" and then is suddenly slammed face-first into a fluffy, tacked-on wall of Gissing getting married, Linda Barnes (Janeane Garofalo) opening a dance school and Dexter getting off with Gwyneth. All in all the film bears distinct signs that Binder had it stewing away in his head for many years before it was made; I got the impression it was all so familiar and obvious in his head he struggled to see the gaps he was leaving for the viewer.
That's the bad stuff, and in fairness there's a lot of it... but here's the good stuff. Janeane Garofalo (Linda Barnes) is very funny, and when you stop and consider how flat her character actually is it's astonishing how entertaining she manages to be. Allan Corduner (Francoise Feulliere) is good too; an excellent depiction of little-man syndrome at work in the corporate world. Juliet Stevenson (Gwyneth Moore) is very good in the straight role - although she hasn't tried to upstage anyone, you have to watch her quite closely to spot how finely tuned her reactions are to the "wacky" happenings going on around her. Sonya Walger is well cast and manages to do a lot with a very two- dimensional part... you just have to ignore the fact that Mary apparently goes from being a stripper when that suits the story to a stage actor and tap-dancer when THAT suits the story.
There IS some good comedy dialogue in amongst the fluff; the conversation about the use of the word "buggered" when Gissing and Barnes first meet in person is memorable, as is Linda Barnes' screaming rant about the definitions of "fine" and "f*cked". Although it was a very clear vehicle to showcase Binder's comic abilities I actually enjoyed the conversation about Gissing peeing on Feulliere's chair; yes, it was predictable and a very common comic device, but that's OK when it's done well as in this example.
Undoubtedly the best aspect of the film, though, is Rickman. Binder pales into insignificance whenever they share the screen, and even Corduner occasionally gives the impression of struggling for your notice in their shared scenes. In fact, the only person who is able to resist being totally outshone is Garofalo... indeed, the two bounce so well off each other it's a shame they didn't have more scenes together.
Surprisingly I found one of the most endearing scenes to be the one in the dance hall during the end credits, in which the entire cast - in costume - is dancing together to "World of a King" by David Mead. It's so intimate, and really gives you the idea that this has been a small pet project worked on for many years by a small group of friends who knew it wasn't world-changing but cared about it deeply. Seen in this light, The Search for John Gissing is instantly more enjoyable and its flaws more forgivable - it's a shame you only see it at the end.
In summary; if you're a fan of Alan Rickman there IS enough here to make The Search for John Gissing enjoyable. If you're not, there's probably not a lot to hold your interest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Matthew Barnes (Mike Binder) and his wife (Janeane Garofalo) have just
arrived in London, where he is to finalize an important merger for his
company, but from the moment they step off the plane, everything goes
wrong. John Gissing (Alan Rickman), his company contact, was supposed
to arrange a driver, a suite, and a bank account, but none of it has
materialized and Gissing himself is missing. The only one who wants to
help is a very pretty and unusual nun.
The first half of this movie is laugh-out-loud funny with madcap misadventures and a bit of a mystery as well. Writer/director/star Binder is quite likable as the Everyman/Underdog hero, but he looks and acts so much like Ben Stiller than I kept wishing they'd just hired Stiller instead. Garofalo is her usual wise-cracking persona and is very funny. Alan Rickman isn't on-screen nearly enough, but his scenes are the best.
The second half bogs down into an endless discussion of Matthew's Merger/Acquisition/Big Deal and I found it confusing and tedious. This is supposed to be an office farce about jealousy and climbing the corporate ladder at all costs, but the last hour was dull and relied too much on silly slapstick humor.
Recommended if you're an Alan Rickman fan or have nothing better to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you love bathroom humour you may like this film.
There are a few oddball jokes but this comedy about a business takeover is boring. The interaction between the husband-wife team becomes increasingly tedious. As the movie moves along, scenes, which are suppose to be funny, become more and more improbable. There is actually one scene of a man urinating on the boss's favorite chair if this sounds hilarious then maybe this is the movie for you!
Another perplexing sequence is when a nun plays a sad song on a guitar and starts to partially reveal her breasts. After this she takes a more revealing shower. None of this came off as remotely funny. Somehow the scenes in this movie just do not work together at all. It's like National Lampoon goes to London.
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