Walter Goodfellow, the vicar for the small English country parish of Little Wallop, has allowed his marriage to Gloria go stale, and he is so detached from his family that he has not taken notice that his 17-year-old daughter Holly is going through a succession of relationships with unsuitable boyfriends, and his son Petey fears going to school owing to being bullied. Out of desperation for affection, Gloria begins to fall for the advances of Lance, an American golf pro who is giving her "private" lessons. The problems upsetting the family start to fade away after Grace Hawkins, the new housekeeper, arrives and starts tending to matters as an older, and rather darkly mysterious version of Mary Poppins. Written by
This great black comedy in the British tradition appeals to all generations. I went with my mother, wife and son and we all enjoyed it very much.
My 20-year-old son, who was not accustomed to this type of dark humour, was quite startled at how murder was portrayed in an off-hand, humorous way. I felt it was a revival of a genre going back to the "Wrong Box"  and before. This film does not dwell on the violence, the gore, the sentiment or the psychological aspects of murder. It seems to be standard fare for most films but it didn't seem appropriate here.
As much I respect, Rowan Atkinson as a comedian, I was concerned that this film would be in the Mr Bean or Black Adder vein. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rowan Atkinson is a very good actor. Most of the time, he played his role as an absent-minded vicar in an understated and sometimes quite touching way. Mr Bean fans will have their moments. There's also lots of innuendo combined with more subtle humour.
Maggie Smith is as ever excellent. The rest of the cast play their archetypal characters or in the case of Patrick Swayze's caricature well.
Though I was able to predict the overall plot, the story is entertaining and there is a gentle message about marital problems, the generation gap and hypocrisy. The scenery mainly in the Isle of Man and partly in Cornwall is stunning.
I recommend it highly.
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