In their mid-twenties now, Dylan (Dan Futterman) and Jez (Stuart Townsend) grew up as orphans; they are over qualified and under employed. Dylan is a fast-talking Yank with the envious trait of always saying the right thing at the right time. Jez is a tongue-tied technical genius with a bad haircut. Tired of the rich get richer syndrome, they decide to exploit it. Their aim is to make a million pounds each and London is their oyster. They use every coupon, enter every free prize draw, and scam anyone who can afford it. But into their lives comes Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) who has her own mission, just as driving, just an inventive, but far more altruistic. She needs money - a lot of money. And in Jez and Dylan, she has struck gold.
"Lively, fresh and offbeat, Shooting Fish marries a lovely sense of absurdity with a touch of heart. With the frankness of The Full Monty, and the folly of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Stefan Schwartz and co-writer Richard Holmes introduce endearing characters, who while twisted, are appealing and engaging, charming us with their unique logic, or the lack of it. Essentially a story of camaraderie and friendship, interwoven with a charming, poignant love story, there is energy to spare with quirky imaginative notions to tickle the funny bone. It is bordering on the farcical with characters who are not only enterprising but manage to inject a lot of joie de vivre into the equation. And it's not always belly laughs, but chuckles all the way. The three leads shine, complementing each other with their diversity. Dan Futterman has a brash ease of delivery that makes him entertaining to watch; Stuart Townsend delights with his shy, insecure, techno-head persona while Kate Beckinsale is charming as Georgie. Each character is a misfit of sorts, yet there's more to each of them than meets the eye. Schwartz has come up with several delightful daydreams, which are amusing in the most profound sense. Everybody loves a scam, especially when not evil by intent: the ultimate scam here is stalking 'fat cats', while the word revenge takes on a whole new meaning. Shooting Fish shows off the larrikin spirit with gusto, in the form of a delightful cinematic gem that engages, entertains and leaves a genuine smile."
"You could say this is an English film masquerading as an American film, with its designer-orphans clutching at our emotional tolerance, their thieving more in the vein of a Robin Hood or a likeable rogue than a criminal act, and their adventures more contrived than convincing. You could say all that, but you could also take the view that it is a romp, a comedy with its heart in the right place and if Four Weddings and a Funeral got away with a lot of manipulative stuff, why can't this film? You'd be half right either way: Shooting Fish sets out as a film with a heartfelt premise: orphans help themselves to help their dream come true by robbing middle class snobs. It ends up by picking up a lot of baggage (including one bag that it's allright to be an aristocrat as long as you don't flaunt it and you really care for kids) and yet it manages to retain its light touch. In the end, this is the quality that saves the film from the dead weight of too much self conscious socio-politics and makes it an enjoyable, unfettered comedy in a new category far removed from any traditional English comedy format. It has bravado, it has comic style and it never relies on stereotypical English comedy business. That's why I like it as much as I do: it's fresh and inventive - and true to its own ethics. And great for a good laugh. Just don't analyse it."
Andrew L. Urban
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SHOOTING FISH (PG)
CAST: Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend, Kate Beckinsale
DIRECTOR: Stefan Schwartz
PRODUCER: Richard Holmes, Glynis Murray
SCRIPT: Stefan Schwartz, Richard Holmes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Henry Braham
EDITOR: Alan Strachan
MUSIC: Stanislas Syrewicz
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Max Gottlieb
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Globe
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 13, 1998