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"Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"

Directed by Bharat Nalluri.
Written by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy.  Based on the novel by Winifred Watson.
Starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace and Ciarán Hinds.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  3/6/08


Utterly predictable and featuring a performance by Amy Adams that will grate on even those who consider themselves her biggest fans, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" is strangely watchable, pleasantly palatable and even a tad romantic thanks to great performances by Frances McDormand and Ciarán Hinds.

The film, based on a novel by Winifred Watson, stars McDormand as Guinevere Pettigrew, a governess so bad at her job that her employment agency has decided on this bitter day that they will not give her any more chances to earn a wage as a nanny.  Snatching up a customer's business card on her way out the door, she jumps in front of another agency governess and arrives at the home of one Delysia Lafosse (Adams), who is in need of the services of a nanny on this particular day not because she has children running around or a dirty home needing a, Delysia is in need because she is juggling three different men in her life and she's faced with some big decisions today...and, by the end of it, she's only got to decide between which man will be her future, how she'll earn money in London and where the hell she's going to live!

"Miss Pettigrew" is a slow starter, one that introduces its over-the-top style by giving us a bit too much of Adams, who has now played a shade of this character in every film she has appeared in.  But, once it finds its way, the film is occasionally pretty funny, and the mix of both the Pettigrew character and Delysia's stylings make for a fun mix once we get about a half-hour into things.  The men in Delysia's life, played by Lee Pace (from that TV show "Pushing Daisies"), Mark Strong and Tom Payne, all seem positively jolly throughout their respective screen time, and we're not forced to swallow too much in the way of romantic comedy, this is more slapstick/vaudeville, mixed with the occasional witty line to keep things jumpin'.  It worked, and as a man that normal is twitching in his seat during these kinds of film exercises, even I had to admit that I was having a good time.

The movie isn't great; in fact, I'm guessing that the decision to have a guy who directed "The Crow: Salvation" (the second "Crow" sequel) meant that the producers were only ever shooting for something mildly entertaining and witty, and in "Miss Pettigrew", they got it.  It becomes hilarious how small the world of the movie London gets by the end of things; you just keep waiting for Miss Pettigrew to run into her love interest, Joe (Hinds), and many of the comedic elements drew only mild chuckles from our audience tonight.  But, take your family, spend $7 for a matinee showing, and enjoy; that is a lock!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09