Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall
Company director Richard (Brosnan) is on the verge of retirement and selling off his company which will fund his retirement, however he then discovers that his company has been bought out, liquidated, the staff all left unemployed and he left penniless. So Richard and his ex-wife Kate (Thompson), whose income is also dependent on the company, reluctantly join forces to find the man responsible. However after being unsuccessful and seeing that the man that ran their company into the ground is about to get married where he will give his bride a multimillion pound diamond, they persuade their best friends Jerry (Spall) and Penelope (Celia Imrie) to join them in a heist to steal the diamond which will pay for all their retirements.
So it is another month and the release of yet another film aimed at the so called ‘grey pound’ demographic, and yet again it is another one that is quite frankly, very cynically and patronisingly made. Also the casting is pretty cynical; the always charismatic Pierce Brosnan (who can forget just how much he enjoyed himself in Mamma Mia) and the always very likeable Emma Thompson may seem like a winning combination, but even they cannot save what is a painfully lacklustre script.
The Love Punch is a film that is so cynically written and made that it is this approach to trying to please as many people as possible and never take a single risk of straying away from a very set and generic narrative path that makes it such a dull and empty film that raises few laughs or character engagement. The intention seems that all involved wanted to make an old fashioned style light hearted caper film and there is a constant emphasis on keeping things as light as possible. Unfortunately, as well as some very lazy storytelling, that actually often prevents The Love Punch from being anything other than instantly forgettable fluff.
The story is of course beyond ridiculous, but it is some of the plot developments where the writers complacently believe that because they are making a ‘crowd pleaser’ they can get away with some of the most embarrassingly shoddy resolutions and explanations. It is this total laziness that destroys what could have been a potentially fun storyline and makes it almost infuriating at times. For example our protagonists have a geeky son who can hack into any computer system when they need him to or French characters converse with each other in English when their conversation is relevant to the plot (but in French the rest of the time). These may be minor quibbles if used once or twice, but amongst all the other languid writing make for quite irritating viewing.
I appreciate that film is entertainment, and The Love Punch is a very light entertainment, but I would also argue that it is not what could be described as ‘harmless’ entertainment due to the fact that is made with, in my opinion, very cynical intentions. Maybe it is indeed not my place to attempt to speak on the behalf of a demographic that I am not part of, but I just feel that a film being this lazy in its storytelling is patronising to the audience that it is unashamedly aiming for. Films like Quartet and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel did have genuinely well written comedy and Song for Marion and Philomena had substance and heart to go with what was admittedly some cynical marketing, but The Love Punch is never particularly funny, dramatic or engaging. However it is without a doubt contemptuous and painfully predictable.
Thankfully the performances from the great cast are solid and often elevate the below average material. They are all most definitely enjoying themselves (though a vast majority of the film being shot on the south coast of France may have helped), but the natural charisma and screen presence of all four make the film just about watchable, even if a vast majority of the laughs end up being at and not with. However, ultimately the emphasis on keeping things light means that any moments that are supposed to contain genuine tension, danger or substance just, well, do not.
Made with a deeply cynical feather-light approach that undermines what could have been a potentially fun romp of a film, The Love Punch is only just about watchable due to the game and charismatic leading cast, but will not last long in the memory at all.