High Heels and Low Lifes
Directed by Mel Smith
The idea of a London nurse and her American actress friend trying to pull one over on English mobsters has room for plenty of laughs. This boring concoction of leaden nonsense, however, is the most unflinchingly unfunny comedy since From Hell.
Hot Chicks and Stupid Blokes
The set up, as it were, starts with a drunken night of revelry for our lady protagonists.
Shannon (Minnie Driver, Good Will Hunting) is an altruistic nurse on the outs with her boyfriend for his having forgotten her birthday. Dumping him, she teams up with Frances (Mary McCormack, Mystery, Alaska), an American she wolf in London, for a few shots (not flu shots) and some dancing.
Frances, by the way, is an actress starring in a really bad artsy-fartsy play in London. Their friendship is never really explained, but, oddly enough, Frances has a hard time remembering Shannon's name.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. They're out drinking, one of the ladies gets her heel caught in a sidewalk grate and, timing being everything in comedy, they are thus afforded the opportunity to witness some suspicious activity at a bank. It all goes down hill from there as they attempt to outwit the bad guys in a violent display of hilarity the likes of which has not been seen since the Home Alone saga.
A creepy feeling permeates High Heels and Low Lifes. It's the feeling that this mess of a movie would be better served as a midnight movie of the week on the Fox network. Not surprisingly, the pair of writers, Kim Fuller and Georgia Pritchett, has an extensive history of writing for television in the UK. They also perpetrated the S Club 7 teenybopper TV series on US soil. And let's not forget to thank Ms. Fuller for Spice World, the Spice Girls movie.
Topping off that powerhouse of talent, director Mel Smith is himself no stranger to comedic failure. Having directed the incredibly obnoxious and immensely unlikable Radioland Murders, he has in the ensuing years grown rusty.
Virtually nothing in this movie rings true – or funny.
There's the detective who's pre-occupied with the difficulties of selling residential property. Not funny.
There's also the token idiot henchman who gets far too much enjoyment out of radio communications lingo. Not funny.
And, even as Shannon and Frances repeatedly get in over their heads and actually witness cold-blooded murder, they still forge ahead by a rather strange determination to wrangle an increasing sum of money from the professional mobsters using what amounts to Jerky Boy tactics. As Keith Olberman would say, "UN-believable." And, I might add, "UN-funny."
Are these examples of cultural differences in humor between the US and the UK? Highly unlikely. This stink bomb failed to ignite the UK box office when released there in the dog days of summer.
Pros and Cons
OK. There are a couple good points. Driver and McCormack make a fetching couple of lasses. Ms. Driver in particular is fun to watch and looks very Betty Boop-like with her exaggerated bone structure (that is a compliment). Both are good actresses and they work well together, but they are clearly slumming their way through this poorly executed material.
Also, after slinking along with minimal entertainment value, the pace actually picks up toward the end and the film's ridiculous climax manages to cough up a couple laughs.
Finally, as an added bonus, surprisingly, the movie avoids the introduction of a dopey romance for either of the estrogen-charged heroines. But, with this lightweight piece of sugar rot weighing in at an anorexic 85 minutes, I guess there just wasn't time.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.