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Dashing young American James Crocker (Sam Rockwell) lives it up day and night in the London home of his failed actor father Bingley (Tom Wilkinson) and social climbing mother Eugenia (Allison Janney) who is intent on buying a peerage. His reputation is a constant issue to Eugenia and her fearsome sister Aunt Nesta (Brenda Blethyn), further demolished by the controversial gossip column published under his nickname of Piccadilly Jim, even though he hasn't written its content for years. When Aunt Nesta suddenly arrives in London from New York with step-niece Anne (Frances O'Connor), Jim immediately falls in love with Anne. In order to give their relationship a chance, Jim pretends to be someone else and takes on the name of the English Butler, but complications arise when he arrives in New York and finds no-one is who they seem.

Review by Louise Keller:
Everyone is having an identity crisis in Piccadilly Jim. There's a misunderstood bad-boy, a poet-turned crime writer disillusioned by love, a husband turned butler, a wife obsessed with having a peerage, a mad scientist, a con man with a lisp and a monocle, a brat of a child who drinks whisky and bullies his parents and an eccentric novelist with an idiot nephew. The characters are all overdone, but that is part of the charm of Julian Fellowes' adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's novel.

It's wacky and irreverent and the script offers some gems. 'Love is like a bomb in your heart,' says Sam Rockwell's playboy Jim Crocker, while Frances O'Connor's disillusioned Anne thinks love is 'an agreement between two people who don't want to eat alone.' Bitter because she is being married off to Lord Wisbeach (Hugh Bonneville) in a loveless marriage of convenience, deep down, Anne is drawn by adventure and excitement.

Allison Janney's flamboyantly over-the-top Eugenia is good fun as she sets about to buy a peerage ('If 600 members of the royal family died, she would be queen,' she says about her influential Duchess guest') and Tom Wilkinson's battered husband Bingley who is not going to take it any more, is most endearing as he pops up unexpectedly as the butler with etiquette to Nesta (Brenda Blethyn). When asked 'Doesn't it feel strange to be taking orders from your sister in law?' he retorts 'I've been taking orders from Eugenia for the past three years and at least Nesta pays me.'

The plot goes crazy as Jim arrives in New York in the guise of his London butler. There's a kidnap plot in which the target becomes an accomplice, a boo-hiss villain of a German spy whose accent changes depending which eye houses his monocle plus the on-off relationship between Jim and Anne, which while never really believable, is highly entertaining. Anne thinks Jim is someone else, but pretends to think he is who he really is, but doesn't let on. Confused? Of course you are. But it's fun and there are many laughs to be had in this madcap comedy that never takes itself too seriously.

Published May 10, 2007

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(UK, 2004)

CAST: Sam Rockwell, Frances O'Connor, Tom Wilkinson, Brenda Blethyn, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander

PRODUCER: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czerni, Andrew Hauptman


SCRIPT: Julian Fellowes (novel by P.G. Wodehouse)


EDITOR: David Freeman

MUSIC: Adrian Johnston


RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9 anamorphic


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

DVD RELEASE: May 2, 2007

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