Peter Cattaneo shot to fame with The Full Monty and follow-up Lucky Break is an equally delightful drama/comedy although one with a slightly darker hear in part. Jimmy Hands and Rudy Guscott (James Nesbitt and Lennie James) are two small-time crooks whose bungled bank job sees them both banged up. But the prison they’re sent to has Christopher Plummer as the governor, writer of the unstaged (and frankly awful) Nelson – The Musical and when Jimmy realises he’s desperate to have it staged, he suggest he and his fellow inmates put it on in the prison chapel… which just happens to be the best place to stage a breakout…
Alongside the ‘will they, won’t they escape’ tension, Cattaneo includes the sub-plot of Jimmy falling for anger management counsellor Annabel (Olivia Williams) which she reciprocates while Timothy Spall plays Cliff Gumbell, who can only cope with prison by the thought of seeing his young son on release – a shock in the post sees his world crumble, the one part of the film when the laughter stops.
With Bill Nighy as the wonderfully louche prisoner Roger and the musical (written by Stephen Fry) superbly spoofing the efforts of some of our titled impresarios, the whole film is overwhelmingly satisfying (and don’t leave the room until the final credits have finished rolling).
UK / 107 minutes / 2001
Writers:Ronan Bennett, Musical: Stephen Fry,
James Nesbitt as James ‘Jimmy’ Hands
Bill Nighy as Roger
Timothy Spall as Cliff
Celia Imrie as Amy
Lennie James as Rudy
Olivia Williams as Annabel
Christopher Plummer as Graham Mortimer
Peter Wight as George Barratt
Frank Harper as John Toombes
Julian Barratt as Paul Dean
Ram John Holder as Old Billy Morris
Ron Cook as Perry
John Pierce Jones as Mad Lenny
Raymond Waring as Darren
Peter McNamara as Ward
Desmond McNamara as Arthur
Andy Linden as Kenny
Annette Bentley as Julie Gumbell
William Howe as Ritchie Gumbell
Ofo Uhiara as Wayne Wayne
Brian Abbott as Phillips
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