Wednesday, May 16, 2018

THE CON IS ON is hilarious

"I've had so many things stuffed up my ass, I might as well get a boyfriend and move to San Francisco," Tim Roth tells Uma Thurman in THE CON IS ON.

 con is on

THE CON IS ON was released in theaters at the start of the month and is also available on streaming platforms.  It's one of the funniest movies of the year and its the best case of ensemble acting since Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS.

The film moves quickly.  For example, in her first scene, Maggie Q shoots someone dead.  In her second, she kills them with a knife.  She's deadly and Q makes the point quickly and effectively.  She is precise in her line delivery and her execution of movement.  She could be a non-speaking role and still manage to get across every tone and meaning.

As amazing as Maggie Q is, everyone is outstanding -- including Quinn Meyers in a bit part (a waiter in one scene) as Sandy.  Hats off to director and co-screenwriter James Oakley for a witty caper film.

The film revolves around con artists Harry (Uma Thurman) and Peter (Tim Roth).  Their latest scheme involves stealing a ring from a woman who's described as "an actress/chat room whore."  They debate how to introduce themselves to her (for Peter, re-introduce) when Uma offers, "Maybe it's better if we bump into her casually" right before rear-ending the woman's car.

The woman is Jackie (Alice Eve).

"You're looking for Jackie," asks Parker Posey's Gina.  "You looking for Jackie?  Where's Jackie?  Where is Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  She's downstairs."

Gina can't stand Jackie.  Parker Posey grabs Gina in a fierce hold and delivers more brave acting.  When she was announced to take over the Dr. Smith role in the LOST IN SPACE reboot, it seemed she was slumming.  But once NETFLIX started airing the show, it was clear that Parker had her own concept she planned to execute.  Gina is another twist and unexpected performance from Parker.

Alice Eve produces non-stop laughter as Jackie.  When Uma's con artist pretends to be a dog whisperer, she explains to Jackie that the dog is "disappointed, this is not what she was led to expect" and Jackie in insistent that the dog was lucky "to be adopted by a celebrity."

"She says she's never heard of you,"  Uma's Harry explains.

Priceless is the look of shock and fury that cross Alice Eve's face as she snarls, "That.  Little.  Bitch."

Jackie's married to film director Gabriel (Crispen Glover).  Glover really runs with the role.  He brings just the right-note of blow hard as he walks around with a crowd of hanger ons explaining, "God is a Communist.  I'm not a Communist although some people might say I am God."  The pompous Gabriel is married to Jackie and sleeping with Gina and sleeping with Vivian (a delightful Sofia Vergara).

There's a lot of sleeping around.  Peter's still ticked about his wife Harry sleeping with Irina (Maggie Q) a few years back.  And Jackie's employee Hans (Michael Sirow) is convinced he's going to sleep with Peter -- telling Peter early on, "I will f**k you."  And then later on, "Just close your eyes and pretend I'm Jackie."

Hans will be among the many killed by Irina prompting Sidney to rationalize, "Well if you're going to wear shorts like that you must expect to be shot, mustn't you?"

Sidney, played by Stephen Fry, is all about the cash and constantly pulling his employee and lover Kim Kim (Edward Zo) in front of him to use as a shield whenever anyone pulls out a gun.  Whether doing that or pushing an amorous Kim Kim away ("Not now, Kim Kim, I've got a Xanax in my throat"), Stephen Fry is outstanding.

Throughout it all, even a shoot out near the end, Tim Roth's Peter is bemused.  For example, the look on his face as two tourists at a party discuss the decay in first class amenities ("Those terrorists, they've ruined everything.") is priceless.

As each new scene replaces the previous one, you're ready to call the movie for Parker Posey or Uma Thurman or Crispen Glover or Maggie Q or Stephen Fry or Tim Roth or Alice Eve or Sofia Vergara or any of the others in smaller parts -- because this film provides each actor something to dig into and really deliver.

It's a shame this film has been buried and that the few notices its received have treated it like a failure.  It's a hilarious caper film and James Oakley and everyone involved has much to be proud of.  Check it out for yourself.  Hopefully, a year or two from now, THE CON IS ON will have found the audience that the studio LIONSGATE seems bound and determined to keep from it for now.

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