“Gambit” was officially shot in 2012 by director Michael Hoffman (The Last Station, One Fine Day), so it’s a bit of a wonder that it took so long to make its way to Blu-ray. The bad news is Gambit (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 89 minutes, PG-13) has no special features to speak of. But if you’re a Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz fan who’s in the mood for a diverting enough comedic confection, Gambit doesn’t disappoint.
Harry Deane (Firth) is an art curator who’s sick of working for abusive media tycoon (and avid nudist) Lord Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman). Although he’s dressed in tailored suits and tries to be as gentlemanly as possible, Harry is a socially awkward fellow whose sense of reality is slightly skewed. With the aid of a longtime colleague (Tom Courtenay) and a straight talking rodeo queen (Cameron Diaz), Harry coordinates an art forgery scheme to bamboozle Lionel. The film is a remake of the 1966 original which featured Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine as the leads.
The picture’s main allure is the screenplay, which was penned by filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. Their trademark humor, which occasionally centers on the incongruity (and occasional danger) of mismatched relationships, is evident in Gambit, and all of the leads effectively play their roles to the hilt. Diaz, who’s usually front and center in most of her work, lets Rickman and Firth have most of the fun in this comedy of manners romp.
Gambit’s tone resembles the whimsy of the Coens’ previous films The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, and if you’re looking for any thematic layers or profundity, you’ve come to the wrong place. At its heart, Gambit is cotton candy comedy – sweet to the taste with a ton of empty calories.
A commentary from Michael Hoffman would have been welcome, but as a lightweight comedy that’s blessed with a brisk running time, Gambit is an engaging enough viewing experience.