The best British humor is dry, and Last Chancers falls into that category. An offbeat crime story that features two guys who get caught in the local criminal element. Written and directed by Phil Stubbs, the Amazon feature film definitely withers the audience with its wry. Maybe too much, because the bandying about needs a bit more moisture, and on our American shores, the humor comes up short.
Unfortunate, because the first two scenes really hit the spot. Flynn (Ellis J. Wells) lives in the English Country side and easily passes for anybody unremarkable.
So obviously the 30something isn’t killing it and interviewing for a position as a bath tile salesman says as much. But Flynn’s passive aggressive sit-down for the job lets us know that he really doesn’t care. Wells ‘above it all’ air even gains the upper hand over the condescending executive and makes us wish we could so easily dismiss the complexities of keeping up.
The playbook also makes Flynn’s disconnect appealing to women, and Flynn is almost begging Jen (Lisa Ronaghan) not to like him. He applies a British version of George Costanza’s, “I’m unemployed and live with my parents,” and the schtick cuts deep.
Thus, Flynn has males everywhere feeling envious. Either way, the lovely woman has no chance, and the slicker delivery gives the win to the Brits.
But the film suddenly alters course. Last Chancers goes from following a man who no longer cares what society demands to a cheeky crime caper. The changeup comes in the form of Flynn’s long time friend Aiden (Harry Dyer).
Aiden appears with a $10,000 loan shark debt and ensnares Flynn in the misfortune. Dyer does add a whimsical child-like component to the formula and plays nicely against Flynn’s even keel. On the other hand, the course change sucks some of comedic air out of the balloon.
No recourse for us, we hope for the best with the introduction of Poynter (Brian Croucher). All business, Croucher says much with few words, and his imposing criminal stature yields little wiggle room.
That’s left to a series of plot holes. Still, a good comedy can overcome the oversights, and there’s enough of a baseline for Last Chancers to work. This includes top notch performances, and cinematography that captures the film’s sentiment.
However, the film seems to dismiss the potential wrath the two main characters face with nothing more than a passing glance. It’s uneven and the comedy would have made more sense if the the competing interests where on more of an equal footing.
We have the two bumbling novice criminals and a better balance would have pit them against like minded criminals. An old formula but without it the comedy has a hard time seeing the light.
Now, there’s still amusement, but the dry burn just doesn’t have enough steam. It’s a shame because the comedic acting chops are there for Wells and Dyer and the duo seems primed to excise them. Or maybe, the comedy just gets ‘lost in translation,’ and this case, we should stick to our side of the ocean and they should stick to theirs.