ALL THE QUEENS MEN

NR
Reviews

What a drag! Hot-headed soldier Steven O'Rourke (Matt Le Blanc) must lead a band of British Special Services agents to infiltrate and plunder a Berlin factory, manufacturer of the Enigma code machine used by enemy U-boats. And, because the factory only employs women, the men must don drag with the help of cross-dressing cabaret artiste Tony Parker (Eddie Izzard).

Director Stefan Ruzowitzky has taken this mothball-y stuff and made a rather sturdy, old-fashioned entertainment out of it, reminiscent of all those old '50s and '60s Brit farces with the antic likes of Terry-Thomas. The handsomeness of Wedigo von Schultzendorff's rich cinematography and the appealing period design (with Budapest standing in for wartime Berlin) add to the creamy commercialism of All the Queen's Men. The mechanically farcical script is certainly no great shakes, but it's played to the hilt by a colorfully assembled cast. Izzard revels in his garter belt and saucy blonde curls (but one always wonders if he really knows what a hideous woman he makes). He has a good slam-bang romantic chemistry with Otto Koritke, who plays a sexy German with a wooden arm, a la Moonstruck's Nicolas Cage. (The writing is like that.) The deliciously warped Udo Kier as a Nazi, and Edward Fox as a Brit colonel, harrumphing like C. Aubrey Smith, contribute their welcome hamminess. Nicolette Krebitz makes an attractively forceful leading lady as a sympathetic librarian, somewhat evoking the bruised worldliness of Hildegarde Knef. She generates some witty heat in her scenes with LeBlanc, who unfortunately still rather suffers from a case of what we'd call "Tribbianitis," and comes off as inevitably modern as a Nokia. His bland, TV-honed-to-the-bone comic double takes and glib emotion only further expose the material for the thin, derivative, quaint stuff that it is.

-David Noh