Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Dirty Rotten Scoundrels</strong> (1988)

(On Cable TV, November 2018) Tone and atmosphere are crucial to comedies, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels manages to keep up a delicate balance between its reprehensible hijinks and the charm of its lead actors hamming it up on the sunny French Riviera. Pleasantly harkening back to earlier decades (it’s a remake of the 1964 comedy Bedtime Story with added complications), it’s a comedy that leaves plenty of room for stars Michael Caine and Steve Martin to riff on their own comic personas, especially when they portray conmen with vindictive streaks. Their banter is infectiously fun, and they manage to neutralize most of the contempt that we would hold for such criminal characters. Glenne Headly is also quite good as the completing piece of the romantic triangle, although it’s a role that requires her to fly under the radar for a while before taking centre-stage in the finale. The French Riviera seems to be a supporting character in its own right, providing the right backdrop for the kind of breezy comedy that director Frank Oz intended. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may not be all that deep (although there’s enough plot to keep things interesting even for those who have seen the original), but it’s well-executed enough to keep audiences smiling.

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