With the help of a talking freeway billboard, a wacky weatherman tries to win the heart of an English newspaper reporter, who is struggling to make sense of the strange world of early 1990s Los Angeles.
Richard E. Grant
Wealthy native Brit Lawrence Jamieson, living in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera, earns most of his money through big cons on wealthy unsuspecting women. With the help of his associates -- corrupt police Inspector Andre, who provides him most of his intel, and his butler Arthur -- he pulls scams such as pretending to be a foreign deposed prince who needs money to finance a secret war to liberate his people. Beaumont-sur-Mer, and thus his world, is invaded by brash American Freddy Benson, another con man whose targets are also wealthy unsuspecting women. Lawrence believes Freddy is the Jackal, a con man whose true identity is unknown but who is known to be working his way through Europe. While Lawrence works on thousands of dollars per scam, Freddy works only on tens or if he is lucky hundreds of dollars. Lawrence's efforts to get Freddy out of his territory are unsuccessful, so when Freddy figures out that Lawrence is a con man like he is, he decides to blackmail Lawrence to ... Written by
The movie was used as the source for the musical "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", which opened at the Imperial Theater in New York on March 3, 2005, ran for 627 performances, and was nominated for the 2005 Tony Awards for the Best Musical, Book, and Score. See more »
Steve Martin's character leaves on a train that is supposedly destined for Portofino. There is no way of getting to Portofino by train. Car, bus, and boat only. See more »
Freddy, as a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn't very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent. I knew my limitations. We all have our limitations, Freddy. Fortunately, I discovered that taste and style were commodities that people desired. Freddy, what I am saying is: know your limitations. You are a moron.
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Unsophisticated slick comedy that is quite fun without being brilliant
American conning women for free meals and small change. Worried that this small poacher will frighten off the bigger game, Lawrence tries to get rid of Freddy but, like a bad penny he keeps coming back. A chance encounter with one of Lawrence's marks means Freddy catches on that Lawrence is just like him albeit on a bigger scale and he returns to the Riviera to confront him. With neither man willing to back off, they settle on a gentleman's bet to fleece the first woman they see with the one to pull off a successful con winning the right to stay and live well off rich women.
With a twisty plot that is, ultimately, predictable, this film is less about the destination of the story but more about the comedy of each scene. On this level the film works pretty well because it manages to keep producing consistent amusement from start to shortly before the finish. I say shortly before the ending because near the end the predictable becomes very obvious and I felt like I was waiting for the film to just catch me up. This is more or less the main problem with the film, that the story is not that great but generally this is covered by the solid chuckles that it produced for the majority.
The cast are a major part of this success and the film benefits from two good turns from the leads. Caine is perfectly suited to the role and does the comic aspect very well. Martin seems to be working harder which is funny considering how much like his other work this character is. He mugs frantically but it works because it is a fine piece of "odd-couple" comedy that works by contrast. Headley is enjoyable even if she is never on the same level as the stars. Support from Rogers and McDiarmid is solid and they both add to the film in the detail.
Overall this is an enjoyable and light film that maybe doesn't catch fire that often but did generally make me chuckle along with its individual scenes. The cast are all good and the story conveniently doesn't get in the way that often, producing a slick if unsophisticated film that will please many viewers by doing what it does.
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