Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sixty Six

The other night I discovered that we had a DVD on our shelves called Sixty Six, a movie I hadn't even heard of. My wife had bought it at some point unbeknowns to me.

It turned out to be oddball, funny and quite original. And it had Helena Bonham Carter in one of her 'mother' roles (as in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), which was a bonus. She has considerably more to do in this than in 'Charlie' and is a somewhat tougher mother (and Jewish). Eddie Marsen was the Jewish father - he's an actor you seldom know about in spite of his strange face - he was Inspector Lestrade in the recent Sherlock Holmes, and has appeared in plenty of movies, but is usually one of the lesser characters.

In this movie he plays the downtrodden of two brothers who run a grocer's shop that, early in the piece, is wiped out by a supermarket opening just up the road (all their customers abandon them in spite of years of hard work). His brother is full of jokes, full of beans, full of life. A go-getter within his own small sphere. Eddie's character is the opposite in every way, and a little eccentric, to boot.

The main character - and the narrator - is a boy just coming up to his Barmitzvah. He's planning on having the most amazing Barmitzvah ever, with plenty of presents, and lots of people. Unfortunately, it coincides with the final of the Football World Cup. England shouldn't even get in the final...but it does, and young Bernie's Barmitzvah is pretty much down the tubes.

Bernie (played by Gregg Sulkin) has everything going against him, just like his father. He has a snazzy older brother (though he's not actually very bright, unlike Bernie), he gets asthma when he's stressed, he's hopeless at sports, and so on. But he's a clued-up kid, and doesn't intend to let disappointment get him down. The crisis, of course, brings out the best in all the family members.

The story is supposedly based on director Paul Weiland's own family circumstances, but it's very likely the family has been a little eccentricated for the movie. Weiland seems to have spent most of his career working with Mr Bean - which will explain some of the humour in this movie, though by no means all - and overall he has a sure hand on the direction.

Small scale, not particularly action-packed, this is a gem of a movie. I'm surprised I've never come across it before...!

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