What do Papadopoulos & Sons and Movie 43 have in common? They provoke
exactly the same number of laughs i.e. none!
I'm not going to dress it up; Papadopoulos & Sons is a terrible film.
Yes, it improves on Movie 43 in that it does at least have a plot and
it isn't horrible, but that's hardly a selling point.
Harry Papadoploulos (Stephen Dillane) is a Greek, self-made
millionaire. The economy crumbles, the bank calls in a Â£300 million (!)
loan and five minutes later he's lost his food company, his mansion and
his assets; everything, except a derelict fish and chip shop that he
co-owns with his estranged, wayward brother, Spiros (Georges
Corraface). Guess what the penniless man and his polar-opposite brother
do next? Guess which life lessons we are be bashed about the head with
in the process? Can you spot the subtlety? Nope. Neither can I!
Everything is played out in the most obvious manner, it is entirely
predictable, almost entirely implausible and frequently possible to
predict the next lines. There is no sense of realty and the criminal
responsible, writer/director/producer/actor Markus Markou (director of
The Last Temptation of Christ â€“ no, not that one, just a short with a
stolen title) appears to have no idea either how to salvage this mess,
or that he has a mess in dire need of salvaging.
What the hell is Stephen Dillane doing in this? He isn't Greek and he
doesn't look or sound Greek. For that matter neither do either of
Harry's sons. And as we are told that Harry's late wife was English,
why does his daughter look Greek? Did Markou forget to tell us Harry's
wife shacked up with Spiros? The only two family members who look even
vaguely similar are Harry and eldest son, Frank (James Dillane â€“ yes,
well spotted!), and, funnily enough, they are the only actors who
emerge with any dignity.
Dillane is a fine actor with a body of work that includes the excellent
Welcome to Sarajevo and Zero Dark Thirty, so what is he doing in this
mess? Was it the only opportunity to work with his son? Both Dillanes
try hard but they're paddling up stream. Everybody else seems to be
acting in completely different films with varying degrees of
panto-style performances. Corraface is so horribly over the top that
most of the audience (all seven of us) cringed every time he laughed
falsely or, worse still, attempted sincerity. As for the youngest son,
Theo (Thomas Underhill), he was clearly bred in a petri dish in
Hogwarts and has evolved into a horrible pastiche of Harry Potter
decked out in dickie bow and a please-slap-me-repeatedly persona.
Virtually every character is written as a joke or inflated so heavily
they bounce around the film smashing everything of decency around them.
A supposedly hysterical gay couple charged with repossessing the
mansion sets gay equality back thirty years, while the reason we know
Sophie (Cosima Shaw) is the accountant with integrity is nothing to do
with her acting (she can't), but purely because her boss, Rob (Ed
Stoppard), is such a gargantuan prick. Oh, the pain.
Markou is clueless and, even if has worked out his screenplay stinks,
he is powerless to do anything about it. You know when a director is
out of his/her depth when s/he resorts to an elongated montage. In
Papadopoulos & Sons Markous gives us two!
At 109 minutes, we feel every single one of them. There is no pace. The
fault of both director and editor, there are pauses the size of small
countries, rendering any hope of comedy through timing utterly futile.
When the mind wanders and you look along the floor for rats in the
cinema to spice up the experience, all hope is gone and every error
upon the screen is so jarring it might just as well be highlighted in
neon and underscored with a comedy drumroll:
The sound mix in one scene is so poor the entire audience (six of us by
this time) leant forward to hear better.
The stock footage of St Thomas' hospital is a completely different
colour to the rest of the film!
The tax disc on the van expires in September 2010. Either it's illegal
or, more likely, it took three years to get this film on the screens,
which tells you a great deal.
The auction sign is nailed to the front door instead of the lawn at the
front of the long drive.
The gardener is chastised to using the front entrance but his wellies
are spotless, not a speck of mud on them nor a smudge of dirt on the
floor and yet he's been working all day.
Where are the food factories? Did they cease trading and evaporate on
one day? What about the actual production of fish and chips? We are
meant to believe the shop has been running for months but only in the
final 15 minutes do we see any evidence of this. When Markou finally
does get around to showing us the hugely successful business, there are
twice as many staff members as there are customers (4:2).
Not even the end is a relief. Markou has clearly attempted something
rousing along the lines of Slumdog Millionaire but instead produces a
scene that embarrasses (some) actors and audience alike. As with
virtually every other scene, he doesn't know when to edit. Hell, he
doesn't know how to stop and relies on the credits to finally put us
out of our misery.
Oh, there is some good music.
Mystifyingly, Papadopoulos & Sons won the audience award at the
Thessaloniki International Film Festival. I can only assume it was up
against Movie 43 and the audience consisted of Markou's mum.
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