Shooting Fish [1997]

Shooting Fish is the kind of movie that evaporates once the end credits roll, but it's lightweight fun while it lasts. An amusing prologue sets the tone: Two young orphan boys--one in America, one in England--demonstrate their precocious ability to subvert the strict rules of society. Eighteen years later, the clever Yankee schemer Dylan (Dan Futterman) and techno-geek Jez (Stuart Townsend) are fast friends in London, pulling off a series of royal scams to finance their dream of building a luxurious home for orphans--of course, it's a selfish cause since they're the orphans. Their newly hired secretary Georgie (played by the delightful Kate Beckinsale) goes along with their con games in the belief that their intentions are good, and when she discovers their selfish motivations... well, let's just say the boys (who are both smitten with the charming medical student Georgie) manage to rise to the occasion and do the right thing. Despite a few clever twists, this frothy plot meanders too much to be very involving, but the three young costars make it all worthwhile. (Futterman had already played Robin Williams's son in The Birdcage and Beckinsale made a strong impression in The Last Days of Disco.) It's one of those featherweight British comedies that's so good-natured you feel Scroogey if you resist it, and director and cowriter Stefan Schwartz has made the movie just smart enough to hold its own against a wall-to-wall soundtrack of kitschy pop songs. If you don't consider "cute" a derogatory term, this movie will offer an agreeable diversion. --Jeff Shannon

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