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Simon & Malou (2009)
Not quite time for love...
** Some spoilers in here **
This is perhaps the 4th or 5th Danish romantic comedy I've managed to get my hands on, and it seems like Danish cinema is *still* trying to repeat the success of a now 13 year old film. Yes, here we have another example of a film which I would suggest is almost certainly influenced by 1998's brilliant "Den Eneste Ene" (The One and Only), which I've also reviewed here on IMDb, even going as far as using "Den eneste anden" (which, and forgive my limited Danish, I think means "the only other one") as its tagline. Sadly, it doesn't quite reach the same heights as Susanne Bier's original.
Firstly, the title confused me - the original Danish title is "Simon & Malou", whilst the "international" title appears to be "No Time For Love", as if those within the industry don't think that us non-Danes will understand that it's a romantic comedy, that "Malou" is a girl's name, and that we'll think it's about a man called Simon and his dog. Very odd decision.
Secondly, like so many others which have tried to emulate Den Eneste Ene's success, it fails to recognise that one of the reasons the original was so successful is not because of the storyline itself (couple fall in love with each other, even though the don't feel they can have each other, villainous boyfriend, etc.) but the fact that the story thread is so tight - everything falls neatly into place, and it's believable. This is where Simon & Malou falls short. Instead, much of the storyline feels "forced", and unrealistic or just plain daft elements are thrown in the mix to keep the viewer entertained.
*** SPOILER *** For instance, when Simon has his accident, it appears the only reason this was written into the script was so that a few cheap gags could be used - oh look, he can't use his arms, so let's have Dejan Cukic trying to type on a keyboard using a pen on his mouth and, of course, he won't be able to go to the toilet by himself either (the toilet joke is repeated TWICE, as is a joke in which it looks like two of the characters are having sex, but are doing something completely innocent). Laughs all round...and, miraculously, he's cured soon after once these "jokes" are out of the way. /end spoiler.
Other problems I've got with the film (**SPOILERS**): - How did Malou manage to get the flat if Simon hadn't handed in his keys? Surely someone from the estate agents would have informed her there was a problem and she couldn't move in yet... - How did Malou manage to get to become a partner so quickly? It seems that she managed to reach this level after a few days, rather than the several months or even years that it realistically takes to get to partner level.
That said, it's a pretty inoffensive film, and I did laugh at Simon trying to (and this is a family site, so I'll keep it clean) "offer his reproductive wares" while dancing away to a tune on the radio. So, maybe one for a rainy Tuesday evening.
Den store dag (2005)
Not brilliant, but not bad either
Den Store Dag ("The Big Day") is the story of Anne and her two close friends, Jesper and Lars, who run a small, struggling, wedding planning business which shares the film's name. Desperate for clients, all their dreams appear to come true when a celebrity couple enter their lives...
While the film in itself is inoffensive and watchable, you can't help but notice the similarities to Hollywood affairs such as "The Wedding Planner" and "My Best Friends Wedding", and there is nothing particularly new to distinguish it between those two efforts. Louise Mieritz plays her role as a flustered, slightly dizzy, wedding planner well, and the supporting cast are equally as competent, if a little exaggerated - surely no-one could be as annoying as Steen! Bad points: the totally non-subtle, "in-your-face" use of product placement. Namedropping a famous furniture store, Denmark's largest bank, a Danish tabloid, and a major TV programme (which plays an integral part in the storyline) is one thing, but (near the start of the film) try watching the way Anne drinks out of the fizzy drinks bottle - it's a billboard poster in itself! That said, the soundtrack is good, and if you're looking for a film to watch on a wet Tuesday evening with your girlfriend, you could do a whole lot worse...
Great show, shame about the commentary
I really can't work out if I love/hate this show - the commentary is waaayyyy over the top ("Freeway Overpass"? Why not just say "bridge"???) and the obvious use of post-production sound effects/commentary turns something which should be informational and act as a warning (remember kids, "Information is power, a power that could save your lives!") into some sort of brain-dead entertainment for Homer Simpson-ites.
-- POSSIBLE SPOILER -- One of the funniest instances of overdubbing was when a famous British chase was shown (I'm from the UK myself) - for those who have seen it, it's the one with the stolen red sports car skidding and rear-ending a truck. Anyway, having seen this clip with the original commentary on a UK-equivalent show called "Police! Camera! Action!", in which the helicopter pilot unemotionally grumbles a few innocuous lines ("Yep, he's turned left, straight on...oh, he's hit a lorry, that's the chase over", or similar), I was struck dumb when I saw it on this show - they'd clearly got in some actor to overdub in an excitable, and over-the-top, Hugh Grant/Prince Charles sound-a-like accent ("Golly, gosh! What is this chap doing? He's speeding away down the road! Oh my goodness he's hit the truck! I *do* hope he's OK!! Tally ho, old chap!" - or similar, but you get the idea).
On a serious note, there is really no need for this over-the-top commentary - we can see the carnage drink-driving/speeding can cause, we don't need some cop/would-be actor to explain it.
Den eneste ene (1999)
Prior to watching this film, I'd never heard of it, so I didn't know what to expect (I hadn't read reviews or anything). My initial thoughts were that it would be a bit like another Danish romantic comedy, "Italian for Beginners", which, while I thought was a great film, was a bit bleak for me. Hence, I wasn't really expecting much more from this one.
However, I must say this is probably one of the best films I've seen over the years - much, MUCH better than the similar Richard Curtis efforts such as Four Weddings or Love Actually. The chemistry between characters is electric and, while it is arguable that the film is a little contrived with an oh-so predictable ending, it's very much a "feel good" film. The supporting cast are great - especially Mgala (she only has one word throughout the film, and I won't repeat it!) and Mulle/Merete, who you just feel sorry for.
The only problem I had with this film was that the Italian character, Sonny, was a complete caricature - big bushy eyebrows, lots of hand waving, and, when he broke into Italian, used the most obvious Italian phrases ("Ti amo!", "Scusi!") - I guess it's because he was played by a Swede rather than a "real" Italian. The acting was fine, just a bit too contrived.
If you can find a copy on DVD, grab it. The version of the DVD I purchased was from Denmark itself (I speak a little of the language), and I was rather surprised and disappointed to find that there were no English subtitles (only those for the three Nordic nations) - I'm sure those outside of Scandinavia would find this a fantastic film, so I cannot understand why such an opportunity was missed. Incidentally, however, the film has been remade using English actors for the British market, as "The One and Only" but is, as far as I can tell from IMDb reviews, is a terrible effort.