Love, Honour and Obey [2000]

In the wake of Quentin Tarantino's genuinely inventive and impressive Reservoir Dogs, American indie "rebels" saturated the market with raw, violent, self-consciously clever crime thrillers and caper films. The overkill buried the genre, but the British have filled that much-needed void in the years since with such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Love, Honor, and Obey is one of the most disposable entries, which is too bad considering the caliber of the cast. Jonny Lee Miller is the wannabe gangster who cajoles his best buddy Jude Law into getting him into big, bad Ray Winstone's mob. When he gets bored because "everybody is busy poncing about" he decides to ignite a gang war with rival Sean Pertwee. The versatile Kathy Burke is funny as the frustrated wife of an impotent gunman, Sadie Frost is largely wasted as Ray's not quite blushing bride, and Rhys Ifans leers and sneers as a hotheaded thug. Ostensibly the movie is a comedy, full of smarmy sex jokes, tough guys goofing in karaoke numbers, baffling scenes of sadistic violence played for laughs, and Miller narrating in full clown make-up. Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis, who not only write and direct but costar as bouncers with an Abbot and Costello patter, play the whole thing like a comedy improvisation gone horribly wrong. It's oddly fascinating in parts but ultimately so awkward and unfocused it dissolves away in mean-spirited meaninglessness. --Sean Axmaker

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