Individually Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson are ingratiating people, and together they make a charming couple. But their best efforts can’t save Joel Hopkins’ weak script of “The Love Punch,” which he’s also directed, clumsily.
The movie is an old-fashioned comedy heist flick in which the stars play Richard and Kate, a divorced couple with two kids, Matt (Jack Wilkinson) and Sophie (Tuppence Middleton) in college. Richard is about to retire, having just sold his company to Vincent (Laurent Lafitte), an international fund manager. But when he goes into the office for a final turnover, he finds that the company has been foreclosed on, leaving him, Kate and his entire staff robbed of their pensions. Vincent’s profited handsomely from everyone else’s loss. (This revelation must prompt anybody in the audience to assume that Richard must be a dunderhead, since a simple Google search would have warned him about Vincent’s reputation.)
Anyway, determined to get their money back, Richard and Kate go off to Paris to confront him, and when he offers no satisfaction they decide to take action by stealing the $10 million diamond he’s just bought for his voluptuous bride-to-be Manon (Louise Bourgoin). Their plot eventually involves bringing their long-time neighbors Jerry (Timothy Spall) and Penelope (Celia Imrie) to France and then kidnapping two Houston couples invited to the nuptials so that the four of them can impersonate the Texans and steal the rock.
It’s amazing how hard Hopkins tries to jolly up the proceedings by inventing supposedly quirky twists and turns for the English folk to surmount. All of them have to scuba-dive out to the wedding chateau and then climb up its defensive wall. At one point they pass a gun around a dinner table and, in full view of other diners, play stupidly with it until it accidentally fires. (Fortunately only a keg of wine is shot.) Brosnan and Thompson must engage in a car chase through the city’s streets, taking their little car down a flight of stairs at one point. They also seem to Skype Matt only when his slobby roommate is engaged in some coarse behavior in the background. Brosnan has to wear a fake moustache and fake an allergy to cats. Imrie has a moment of profound embarrassment when she toys with a penis she’s broken off an ice statue of Cupid. Spall must babble about a series of past adventures that his wife knows nothing about. But Thompson comes off worst. She not only has to fake an allergy to flowers, but must go through a bunch of badly-choreographed slapstick during a beach bachelorette-party bash for Manon.
Perhaps some of this stuff might have earned a smile had Hopkins been able to stage it with any sense of craftsmanship. But virtually every scene in “The Love Punch”—so called because inevitably the adventure brings Richard and Kate back together again—is botched in some fashion, either through bad writing or sloppy direction. The four leads are game throughout, but one can only believe that their agreement to participate in such a project derived not from any attraction in the script, but from the possibility of enjoying an expense-paid vacation in Paris and the French Riviera. Those locales are indeed the picture’s major selling point: they’re lovely, and shot well by cinematographer Jerome Almeras. The other tech credits are okay.
Otherwise Hopkins’ picture hasn’t much to offer. On a couple of occasions Richard and Kate respond to one another’s schemes by calling them “crazy but brilliant.” Neither adjective applies to the movie itself. It’s more like silly and messy.