Gambit is an unforgivably dull carnival of grotesque stereotypes

FILM
GAMBIT
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.