Gambit is an unforgivably dull carnival of grotesque stereotypes

Cert 12A

Culture clash comedies risk falling into the trap of reducing their characters to dull stereotypes. Gambit does not fall into this trap – it gleefully dives into it with suicidal abandon.

Colin Firth plays Harry Deane, the long-suffering art buyer for misanthropic mogul, Lord Shabandar (Alan Rickman). Financially hard up and seeking revenge, Deane formulates a plan to con Shabandar into bidding for a fake Monet. For some reason he enlists the help of a Daisy Duke-style Dixie chick, PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz). Giving Cameron Diaz the lead role in a comedy must be the most optimistic casting decision since Alanis Morissette played God in Dogma. Diaz possesses the comic timing of a bread-bin, gawping her hammy southern belle imitation with the over-enthusiasm of a GCSE drama student.

In want of any chemistry between her and Firth, the director half-heartedly turns to lame slapstick. Particularly unfunny episodes include: Colin Firth not being able to open a door, Colin Firth’s trousers falling down and Colin Firth not being able to pick up a chair. Worst of all, this is written by the Coen brothers, who really need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Gambit aims for the zippy chaotic fun of a Victorian farce. Instead, it limps along, weighed down by misjudged performances and a substandard script.