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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.
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.
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.
*** 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.
ATQM was amusing, but what made the movie was Eddie Izzard as Tony. A few of his lines were so funny, you have to wonder if they were ad-libbed. Now, this is not the greatest movie ever made by any means.For one thing, Matt LeBlanc makes a very unattractive woman :-P. However, the characters are likable and the script is at times hysterical and at other times very heart wrenching. James Cosmo, whom I had dismissed early on in the film as being simply silly comic-relief, turned out an incredibly poignant performance. The female lead is sassy and strong while at the same time very vulnerable and traumatized by her circumstances. I was surprised, but pleased, at how strongly the story dealt with homo-, hetero-, and bisexual characters that all got along quite well. If you dislike either Eddie Izzard (say it isn't so!) or Matt LeBlanc, then you should avoid ATQM. Otherwise, enjoy! :-)
With Matt LeBlanc in the title role, I'm afraid that I feared the worst as
there is certainly a compelling reason for him not appearing in many feature
films; one can certainly point a camera at him, but I can't understand why
someone would point a microphone at him.
However, his supporting cast certainly props him up well. Eddie Izzard in particular. And Nicolette Krebitz is certainly a delight to look at and someone who seems to be able to act.
In general, this film can't decide what it is. Comedy? Drama? Espionage? There's certainly not a lot of comedy outside of the guys wearing dresses. Then again, Berlin in the dying days of WW2 probably wasn't a whole lot of laughs.
The voice-over/explanation before the film even begins is worthless and should be deleted from all future prints. Yet while the producers seem to want to force this down our throats, they wouldn't spring for sub-titles during the German portions of the film.
The writing is nothing to salute and from people with less-than-noteworthy careers. The directing by Ruzowitzky is noteworthy only in it's lack of noteworthiness. Pretty static and boring.
Not a film to run screaming from, but I wouldn't recommend seeking it out, either.
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