At this point The Coen Brothers could pretty much do anything and I'd zombie my way to the cinema without thinking twice about it. With Gambit, a remake of sorts, it looked like they might have written another farce in the vein of The Ladykillers, a film which I've always felt was wrongly underrated.
Alas, they aren't on directing duty this time...
We follow Colin Firth's art curator as he hires Cameron Diaz's rodeo queen to help him pull off an elaborate heist involving a rare Monet painting. The goal being to piss off Alan Rickman's odious art collector and make quite a few bucks in the process. The film is going for a 60's-style screwball comedy vibe and with a strong cast like this one and a script by the Coens, you'd expect nothing less than a sharp, fun, clever little flick.
Sadly, whatever wit we found in the likes of Fargo and whatever cartoonish shenanigans we found in The Ladykillers are nowhere to be seen in Gambit. Sure the film opens with a Pink Panther-style cartoon credits sequence but what follows is astonishingly charmless. The humour involved lacks bite despite Alan Rickman doing a good job overall and both Firth and Diaz fall flat. Gambit has its amusing moments but it's never actually funny. An absurd 2D turn by Stanley Tucci attempts to steal the show with a part you would have given to Peter Sellers or Jack Lemmon back in the day but because the rest of the film fails to capture the overall atmosphere of that kind of farce, Tucci's performance just comes off as awkward.
The plot is also a bit of a mess.
First we get a subjective glimpse into what Firth's character intends to achieve through his little plan but soon enough we (and he) are sent hurling back to reality. A clever idea but one which makes little sense with the end "twist". Firth is presented to us as a bumbling goofball with an idea that's simply too big for him, he is deluded and never looks like might pull anything off. Then all of a sudden we're meant to buy the guy as some kind of mastermind. Which is weird because then what about that scene where he was trying to steal a Ming vase from the Savoy hotel by stupidly sneaking out a window with his pants down? Was that all intentional too?
I don't think the filmmakers knew what to make of this movie. Or they knew what they wanted and they just weren't sure about how to approach things. You needed better characters, better jokes, more style, a better score... just better everything.
As it stands, Gambit is a non-event. There are worse films out there, of course, but this is about as forgettable as a comedy can get. Considering the talent involved, this is a disappointment.