It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The funniest thing about "The Man Who Knew Too Little'' is the title; that melancholy truth that develops with deadening finality as the movie marches on. The movie develops endless permutations on an idea that is not funny, until at last, in desperation, we cry, "Bring on some dancing Cossacks!'' and it does.
Bill Murray stars as Wallace, a clueless American tourist, visiting London to see his brother (Peter Gallagher). The brother is a banker throwing a big business dinner, so to get rid of Wallace, he buys him a ticket to the "Theater of Life,'' a troupe that works on the city streets and involves one audience member at a time in a real-life drama.
Wallace, alas, answers a pay phone at the wrong time, and finds himself involved in a real spy drama instead of a fake theatrical one. This leads to no end of misunderstandings, and when I say "no end,'' please assume a tone of despair mixed with exhaustion.
The movie is simply not funny. It is clever, yes. Based on a book by Robert Farrar, it concocts conversations that all have the same thing in common: They can be taken both ways. So Wallace means one thing and the spies think he means another, and on and on and on and on and on.
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