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Friday, June 27, 2014

Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

Full Cast

Talk about some great, grimy, 18th-century action. I really enjoyed this film. My romanticized perspective: a bromance about scam artists (of the 18th century, “Stand and Deliver” variety.) Less romanticized perspective: a dark comedy / adventure film with sword fights, one diabolical fiend, highwaymen, blood, punching, and some special quirks.

Basically, these two are cutthroats, one a little more gentile than the other (that’d be Macleane), and they have this plot to go to America and pass Macleane off as a gentleman there. Their scheme is this: Get all the inside info about who is rich and who is not by dressing Macleane up as one of the upper crust, and then ROB THE BUGGERS! <--- Very exciting business.

Why I Loved This Movie:

1) Jonny Lee Miller as Macleane & Robert Carlyle as Plunkett = Awesome & Awesomer

If I were an 18th century, male lowlife, I would definitely cash in with these guys. Three musketeers! Macleane, Plunkett, and the Snarky Victorian. Except no, because they would be out robbing people at gunpoint and then sharing Piña Coladas under the full moon. It would be like tagging along on a platonic date between robbers.

2) Alan Cumming as Lord Rochester – Taking the 18th century makeup-wearing, wig-donning fashion to whole new levels. He’s Macleane’s connection into the world of the gambling upper-class hordes (but really only, like, a few dozen families, amiright?) 

3) Lord Rochester’s two Chav friends. That's right. Chav. At a gambling soiree, Rochy introduces them to Macleane, and they say...

Guy 1: Awriiigght!
Guy 2: Gieser!
Guy 1: Nicely!

If it sounds like a string of exclamations, that’d be correct. And then the one on the left did that extremely annoying thing kids did in my high school, where they snap their two fingers together. Argh, I hated it.

(Just to note, Plunkett is literally waiting out in the pouring rain the entire time. Someone needs to send some love to Plunkett. He doesn't get a girl, and I think he should.)

4) The 1999 Background Music – The folks doing their 18th century jigs to the tunage of some ’99-sounding music. I don’t know what kind of music that was, but it was slammin’ / bangin’ (points for 90s slang.)

5) The fact that the whole upper-class society is completely thrilled by the Gentleman Highwayman and the Guy He’s Always With. What? Two men are robbing our kind on the way home or possibly at private celebrations? That's terrifically entertaining. Moar!

So far I’ve only focused on the comedic, sword-wielding-duo aspects of this movie, but it’s pretty clear within the first few minutes that this film has its share of cringe-worthy scenes. Is “thumbing out an eye” a phrase? Check out the first five minutes and decide whether you too would like to get your precious stones by digging up corpses / old partners in crime.

Again, let me stress that there is a big adventure aspect to this film. Gunfights, gunshots, near-rapes, punching, stuff like that.

Liv Tyler, as love interest and then (spoilers alert) the third musketeer, is pretty good. As always, I am shocked by how pale her skin is, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this review. Her constant cool basically makes the character, so I will let it go. Not everyone could be so excited about going from clean and pretty to dirty and ... well... yeah, dirty.

I can appreciate how eager she is to join in because, even as a modern girl with the expectation of female involvement in violence, I would run the other way. Highwaymen are like the gang members from West Side Story. They sing and have great dance moves, but then they get you killed (Or kill you.) Unless you’re Liv Tyler and, while I sometimes react to my family members like she does to her assy father, that I am not.

Any campier, and I might have started toting around Plunkett & Macleane badges on my clothing. But although there are some good Plunkett-Macleane moments, this is not a Disney film. It’s not all banter. It's pretty dark. And I enjoyed that.
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