How to Make Love Like an Englishman aka Some Kind of Beautiful (2014)

<strong class="MovieTitle">How to Make Love Like an Englishman</strong> aka <strong class="MovieTitle">Some Kind of Beautiful</strong> (2014)

(Video on Demand, August 2015) Despite its rather saucy title, How To Make Love Like an Englishman (retitled to the much blander Some Kind of Beautiful in the United States) is a fairly mild-mannered romantic comedy, albeit with some amazingly ill-conceived moments.  Featuring Pierce Brosnan in a role that superficially looks like a vanity project (he’s listed as an executive producer), this is a film that asks you to sympathize with an older booze-pickled academic lothario who moves to California to be with his unplanned child’s mom, even after she kicks him out to the pool-house (which is more luxurious than most main dwellings) and takes up with another man.  Ludicrous complications ensue, from his falling for his ex-partner’s older sister, being arrested for DUI, being deported and then sneaking back in US soil among Mexican illegals… it’s really hard to figure out why the script does what it does, but the result is both charming and creepy at the same time: Anyone else but Brosnan in the role would have made the film fail loudly.  Even as it is, it’s hard to know whether we should be laughing or cringing: How To Make Love Like an Englishman embraces the lovable-alcoholic trope far too long, even after it’s proven to be actively dangerous to other characters.  It also seems to live in a genial Neverland of strange human emotions and fairy-tale California sets never to be experienced by us humble viewers.  At least Brosnan has a bit of slimy adulterer’s charm, while Salma Hayek gets to play sexy for a while and Malcolm McDowell is the ideal crusty father-figure.  (Poor Jessica Alba doesn’t get much to do, though.)  There are a few genuinely amusing sequences; others are just puzzling.  The result is all over the place, including some genuine head-scratching moments.  There may be weirder romantic comedies out there at the moment, but contemplating this one is more than enough.

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