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Look, I know we're all different, but this poor movie's gotten a heck of a
bashing all over the net -- and it doesn't really deserve it.
Yes, the first ten minutes are slow. They're funny, but they're slow. And yes, the movie has a different tempo than most audiences are used to.
But Matt LeBlanc is wonderful as "Agent Almost", the guy who tries with all his studly spy-boy might, but never quite gets the job done. There's a brilliant sequence 3/4th's of the way through the film where our hero slithers, shimmies, and dodges his secret agent man way around a German town, trying to get some information -- at the same time that his very ragtag group (plus one fiesty librarian) tries their own hand at the spy stuff. Guess who gets the goods?
Floating behind the drag and spy jokes are some striking and raw scenes of war from the point of view of the women and children left behind. They create a rich backdrop, as well giving life to some of the motivation behind the characters' actions.
Give it a chance -- it's a good movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot holes, un-funny moments, a subtle anti-gay vibe and downright poor
acting are just some of the anchors weighing down this
Matt LeBlanc is wooden, sullen and mechanical as OSS officer Steven O'Rourke -- an American who has already tried to steal an "Enigma" code machine from the Germans in Italy. LeBlanc plays O'Rourke as an arrogant, unsympathetic and violent "ugly American" who always knows better than his British counterparts (who seem toffee-nosed, elitist, rule-bound and lacking in common sense). The film is touted with the tag-line "see Matt LeBlanc -- in a dress!" Yet, LeBlanc's character openly ridicules cross-dressing in the film and is seen in drag only three short times (during the opening insertion into Germany, at the Gestapo party and during the factory scene toward the end). Throughout the film, the director and writer go to extreme lengths to "prove" LeBlanc's heterosexuality -- by having him look unfeminine in drag, by having him openly seek sex with Resistance contact Romy (at one point, you almost expect them to do it in her attic apartment; her legs are spread, he's between them, and all that has to happen is for him to drop his pants), and by having him do a variety of butch and masculine things that seem stupid for a spy to do (like sit on a rooftop and use his radio, engage in running gun-battles in downtown Berlin in broad daylight, and steal an airplane from a Luftwaffe fighter base).
Eddie Izzard is the film's stand-out lead. The real-life transvestite and comedian not only knows how to play comedy but he doesn't denigrate drag or homosexuality (or bisexuality). Most of the film focuses on Izzard's character, anyway -- he turns the rag-tag group of non-spies into believable (sic) women, it is his attempt to find German ex-lovers Franz (a man) and Paloma (his ex-wife) that is the primary reason the plot moves forward and resolves itself.
James Cosmo as pencil-pushing pre-retirement British Army sergeant Archie is well-cast. Although he takes a while to get a handle on his character (especially in the opening scenes), he is one of the film's real gems. Especially poignant are the scene with his wife the night before he is to infiltrate Germany, his part in finding the Enigma factory, and his final scenes -- where he adopts an orphan German girl and steals the Enigma device and where he sacrifices himself in order let the others escape and the Allies win the war.
David Birkin as Johnno, the code-cracking wunderkind who speaks 27 languages is a little lightweight for this cast, but he is able and manages to score several wonderful moments. The look on his drunken face as he's gambled over in the lounge where Paloma sings is just precious, and his grief and confusion when the German officer is stabbed to death before his young eyes is palpable. One wishes, however, that his character had been given more depth (I came away wondering if perhaps his character wasn't supposed to be sexually confused; it would have added to the film if he had been).
Nicolette Krebitz as Romy, the German Underground librarian, is wasted in this film. She's beautiful, she has class, and she has real acting skill. Her decisiveness as the group escapes the library provides an unreal scene with believability. Her acting is reminiscent of the many female spy roles in war movies from the 40s and 50s -- a real compliment! About the only time things fall apart for her is when she's matched with LeBlanc, who -- as an actor -- gives very little for his co-stars to work with in scenes.
Oliver Korittke as Izzard's boyfriend Franz is wonderful as well. Franz comes off believable and real, and matches Izzard emotion for emotion without making the audience think that he's thumbing his nose at homosexuality on the inside. One only wishes he appeared in more scenes and had more to do. Watch for Edward Fox in an outstanding role as Col. Aiken -- the uber-British Royal Army officer! He's great!
Otherwise, the film is a very mixed bag. There are numerous, obvious plot holes. For example, why does the Army infiltrate spies who can't speak German into Germany? LeBlanc says he spent four months among German Army troops in Italy, trying to steal an Enigma machine -- yet he can't speak German? Why does LeBlanc go into the open to send his radio signals? How does a fat-bodied airplane manage to escape Germany and occupied Europe without being shot down or fighters sent after it or being shot down by British AA or fighters? Why does LeBlanc try to burn down Gen. Lansdorff's office -- and him with it? (Won't this raise suspicion about "Gina"?)
There are some great visual moments in the film -- notably, the shot of hundreds of bombers flying at night over a Germany aflame. There is another scene shortly thereafter when the spies parachute out of the plane, and they float down over a darkened countryside -- with Berlin on fire and bombs exploding in the city streets in the background. In another part of the film, the guys wander (in drag) through the streets of Berlin -- which are shattered and ruined. Up til now, they have talked about "Jerry" and "kraut" -- and only now do they realize that war is destroying Germany. (And yes, we soon see a rich German Army general and his dolled-up wife exiting a car, proof that it is the German people who are suffering and not the elites.)
But the editing -- while smooth and seamless -- doesn't have much style to it. The opening and closing titles are difficult to watch (they are inventive, but like Flash coding -- they are also very annoying). The music in the film seems to comprise largely of one semi-swing piece of music played at the beginning and end of the film, and whenever the audience is "supposed to laugh."
By the film's end, I was terribly disappointed with "All the Queen's Men." What is billed as an action-drama-comedy with a positive view of cross-dressing instead plays transvestitism for laughs in the way that you'd expect from a film in the 1950s. Where a more honest leading man would embrace the character of O'Rourke and what he has to do to win the war, LeBlanc seems so afraid of being labeled queer that he has forced O'Rourke to embrace him. The result is a "comedy" whose laughter comes at the expense of its audience. It's too bad that the film couldn't have just focused on Izzard, Cosmo and Birkin -- it would have worked, and worked amazingly well.
After all the bashing it received elsewhere, I'd like to join the
majority here saying this is a vastly underrated flick. It's a
WW-II-comedy in "Some-like-it-hot-"drag, tinted by a touch of tragedy.
Though LeBlanc is not that convincing, the self-finding of the young decoder and the love story of Eddie Izzard are deeply emotional and worthwhile throughout. Beautiful Krebitz' character is one of the witty girls often found in war-times Germany, though her banter is toned down in speed to let even Austrians understand the meaning of her lines.
Great cast, good story with only minor plot holes (yes, you should watch it till it's over) and some really funny gags. Good blend of war drama and comedy.
When I finally found this movie, I had been looking for it for quite
some time. I have been a very big Eddie Izzard fan for a long time and
also a FRIENDS fan, so it was definitely something I wanted to see. And
I think it met my expectations. No it isn't an Oscar-worty movie or
anything like that, but it is throughly enjoyable. It is the best thing
aside from Friends that I've ever seen Matt Le Blanc in (I know that
isn't saying a *lot*, but he does give a decent performance). The stand
out as many people have said is obviously Eddie Izzard. The fact that
he is a more polished comedian and since he is a transvestite in
reality he seems pretty comfortable in the plot. He also has the best
timing of them all. The only true complaint I have about this movie is
that on the DVD in order to have subtitles for the few German lines you
have to have the subtitles on the whole time, but that has nothing
really to do with the movie as a whole. It isn't a movie that takes a
lot of concentration to watch, but that isn't always bad. I really hate
that so many people have written comments basically praising everyone
in it and then calling the movie awful. There are some very touching
scenes especially one between Izzard's character and his boyfriend who
have been apart for a long time. So I would definitely recommend this
movie to a friend.
** 1/2 stars out of four.
I've been an Eddie Izzard fan for quite a long time (As has the friend I watched this film with) and we approached it from that stand point. In fact as we picked it we couldn't help but recite "it's the 131st transvestite brigade, parachuting behind enemy line with fabulous make-up and a fabulous gun." Taking it as that style of campy send up of war we found it rather funny, of course it was cheesy and full of plot holes, but that was part of the appeal. "I have to get my mousy-kins!" I mean if this film wasn't laughing at itself it should have been. Yes Eddie turns in a brilliant performance from an emotional stand point as well, as does David Birkin, but their performances add to the humour not over shadow it. Yes from the stand point of making the world a better place this film did not accomplish a single blow for understanding, but not everything has to be a statement for the cause. Some things are allowed to be funny for humour's sake, and those of us who get that the stereotypically wooden characters are there to make a point find them all the more funny. Give it a try.
Brilliant I had bought this off HMV and after reading so many reviews I was expecting an awful movie but to my surprise it is brilliant. Eddie Izzard is fantastic in this movie. His relationship with Franz is brilliant you can sort of feel a connection. Matt LeBlanc is not too bad in this movie but I believe he could of done a much better job. David Birkin is fantastic. He really suited his character and portrayed him extremely well. Most of the reviews are comparing this movie to "Privates on parade" which is stupid. Privates on parade is an awful movie. I watch it as John Clesse was in it but he hardly said anything. This movie is nothing like Privates on Parade this movie is fantastic. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is an Eddie Izzard fan. His character in this movie is brilliant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie has a British feel to the humor and style. It was refreshing
to watch a movie that didn't didn't blow things up or have a chase
scene of lots of fancy fighting. My husband and I both enjoyed the
movie, and felt light hearted after watching it.
I loved the campy cabaret scenes, the sets, and lack of reality. Who needs realistic war scenes and drama when they want to relax and be entertained. Yet there was a poignant look at how the war affected people.
It would have been improved with English subtitles for the German dialog, but it was easy enough to follow the plot.
I have seen far worse movies than this one, which has far higher
ratings. Don't believe the rating on this movie, it is a fun movie to
Consider this as a low budge comedy, you are not watching it because of its intense actions, or serious historical stories, etc, just watch it to get entertained.
Some of the scenes were a little out of logic, obviously they can't do that in real life. The funniest line is the "be-sexual" scene.
Tony actually looks pretty womanlike, it was funny to see him in the black dress, and singing those German songs. Those songs sound pretty good, too.
I rate this movie 7, but since it has a low rating. Therefore, I am rating it 8 to increase its rating a little.
Even as an Eddie Izzard and Matt LeBlanc fan this film endures a few hardships in providing a really great war-drama-comedy. Even from the outset you can tell this isn't a major motion picture, (and the fact i brought it for £1 brand new from a national chain store backs that up). Despite this, the acting cast do a good job, with a few recognisable faces making well acted appearances. But the big problem comes with LeBlanc, because his appeal is primarily to an American audience and fans of 'Friends', and of course, he isn't playing Joey. The lack of subtitles for the German dialogue also didn't help for people like me who don't have an excellent grasp on the language, and this film features quite a lot of foreign dialogue. Nether-the-less the film does deliver something quite different, and funny in times, so isn't a total drag. Its worth a watch, maybe when you've got a couple of hours to spare, just like i did today!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ten minutes into this film I honestly didn't think I was going to enjoy it.
It really looked as though I was going to be treated to a Brits as buffoons
and Americans as heroes stereo-typical war movie. However I should have kept
in mind that the producer is German, the director Austrian and the writer a
British born Jewish actor. I soon found myself quite enjoying the rather
ludicrous situation (based on a true story apparently) involving a group of
seemingly useless and, for the most part, desk-bound Brits and an American
who never completes missions, dressing as women to infiltrate the German
factory that builds the Enigma code machines. One is a pen-pusher of rather
advanced age who's terrified of the prospect of being dropped behind enemy
lines, another is a bi-sexual transvestite who appears way too camp to be
capable of doing any more than giving the others make-up and deportment
tips. Then there's the brain-box multilingual de-coder, barely out of short
trousers, hopelessly naive and with a weak bladder to boot and finally Matt
Le Blanc playing apparently dumb but cute like only he can (which I do not
mean as a slight on the man).
Only one of these men is in anyway convincing as a woman (and it's not the t.v. - sorry Eddie!) and although I found myself enjoying the film despite myself I just couldn't accept the fact that they were actually getting away with it. The fact that two of them couldn't speak German and they all made no attempts to lower their voices when speaking English didn't sit well either. Were we really expected to swallow the notion that the British army were so stupid that they'd send non-German speaking soldiers on a mission behind enemy lines or, for that matter, that they wouldn't use the option of female spies to do the job? But I'm pleased that I over-came these annoyances and didn't let them spoil my growing enjoyment of the film and its rather delightful assortment of characters. Especially as, very late on in the action, everything becomes clear and falls right into place quite beautifully. But to tell you how that comes about would be to plant a spoiler so I'll not say another word about it.
"All The Queen's Men" actually handles its subject matter extremely well and, considering four of them are wearing dresses, none of the actors are tempted to camp it up anymore than is strictly necessary and they all perform with a good sense of both the comedy (which is, for the most part, subtle) and drama involved. There's a little bit of romance, a touch of pathos here and there and, very importantly, an extremely sensitive yet understated view of how ordinary Germans were dealing with the devastation of the Second World War. Having accepted the somewhat implausible plot, I found myself enjoying the well crafted script and couldn't help but grow rather fond of all the central characters. This film left me smiling and making a mental list of all the people I know who I'd like to share it with. Give it a chance and you might just find yourself agreeing with me.
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