This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Wrong casting is not the only problem with "Splitting Heirs," but a few switches in key roles wouldn't have done any harm. The story begins in the 1960s, when an heir is born to a hippie British lord and his American wife, who absent-mindedly leave him behind in a restaurant. Switched with the baby of the ambitious cook, the true heir is adopted by an Indian family in London, while the impostor is raised by the duchess in the States.
The old lord drowns while yachting ("Another millionaire overboard!" the headlines scream), and the American, not realizing he is an impostor, arrives to take the title and the vast holdings that go along with it. He is played by Rick Moranis, while the true heir is played by Eric Idle, and right there are two of the difficulties with this film: The actors should have been cast as each other's characters.
Moranis is genial, slack-jawed, back-slapping and utterly inappropriate as a British lord. Idle is reticent, decent, bumbling and gawky. He would make a much more appropriate lord - which is why the movie would be funnier if he was unmasked, and the vulgar American was elevated to the title. Comedy suffers when it refuses to fly in the face of reason. Remember, for example, "Splash," which would have been much funnier if the mermaid (who had never seen a human male before) had fallen in love with John Candy instead of Tom Hanks.
Never mind. As "Splitting Heirs" gathers speed, the pretender arrives from America with his sex-mad mother (Barbara Hershey), roller-blades into the offices of the old lord's company, and sets about appalling everyone. Meanwhile, Idle, as the real but unaware lord, becomes Moranis' best pal as they paint the town. Enter John Cleese as a barrister whom Idle approaches with his case, and who suggests it would be much easier for the House of Lords to agree with Idle's claims if Moranis were dead. The resulting series of bizarre murder attempts are like those in many other movies, and not particularly funny.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
Meryl Streep and other awards recipients shared their thoughts on an America under Donald Trump during last night's G...
A review of NBC's "Emerald City," premiering January 6th.