(director: Eric Styles; screenwriters: from a Noel Coward play/Paul Rattigan/Michael Walker; cinematographer: Jimmy Dibling; editor: Caroline Limmer; music: John Debney; cast: Julie Andrews (Felicity Marshwood), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Miranda Frayle/Freda Birch), Colin Firth (Peter Ingleton), Sophie Thompson (Dora Moxton ‘Moxie’), William Baldwin (Don Lucas), Edward Atterton (Nigel Marshwood), Stephen Fry (Frederick Crestwell), Gaye Brown (Lady Hayling), Anwen Carlisle (Alice), Katy Stephens (Caroline); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Christopher Milburn; Alliance Atlantis Communications; 2000-UK)

“The lightweight comedy remains undemanding, but offers some droll Brit humor that might satisfy the Anglophiles.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Eric Styles follows his Dreaming of Joseph Lees with another tedious film set in the 1950s in the British countryside. It’s a comedy of manners based on a 1951 Noel Coward play, that keeps in the fluff but never gets to the depths and compassion Coward gave to his post-war characters as he satirizes upper-class mores. It drained so much energy from the play, that it merely looks as if it were a television sitcom.

The eligible Earl of Marshwood, Nigel (Edward Atterton), a nerdy dude, becomes engaged to beautiful social-climbing Hollywood starlet Miranda Frayle (Jeanne Tripplehorn). Miranda has just broken up with famous heartthrob Hollywood actor Don Lucas (William Baldwin). Nigel’s mom Felicity, the Countess (Julie Andrews), publicly is all smiles but privately objects because she expects her son to marry someone within his own class. The doting mom’s royal friends are concerned that her corner of England will be sullied. Her personal maid Moxie (Sophie Thompson) reveals that she’s Miranda’s long-lost sister and can’t stay on because of her poor relationship with sis. Felicity becomes disheartened that she will also lose the maid she has been so dependent on for the last twenty years, and searches for ways to fight this marriage in a civil way.

When Nigel arrives with Miranda, Felicity cooks up a scheme with the help of sophisticated cousin Peter Ingleton (Colin Firth) and the cunning butler Frederick Crestwell (Stephen Fry) to have Moxie pass off as a close friend and aristocratic equal. Things get sitcom crazy when Don leaves the set of his film to crash the Marshwood estate and petition his case for winning back Miranda.

The lightweight comedy remains undemanding, but offers some droll Brit humor that might satisfy the Anglophiles.

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