Stars: Rita Rudner, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, Tony Slattery
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 101 minutes
What if you could go back to your glory days? Peter's Friends, sort of The Big Chill reconceived as an Agatha Christie country-estate drama, lets a group of university pals ponder that question while they must deal with their present-day demons. Kenneth Branagh's film, written by costar Rita Rudner and Martin Bergman, is buoyed by its vast and talented cast, whose chemistry keeps the action crackling, even when most of the action is the characters speaking. The friends are reunited at Peter's posh country home after the death of his father, for one last New Year's Eve. The bons mots fly, and the interaction of the actors is, as the Brits say, brilliant. Peter (played by the sublime Stephen Fry): "It's funny, with both my parents gone, I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to act maturely." Andrew (Branagh): "Oh, well, I don't think anybody really matures. Adults are just children who owe money." Yet buried among the one-liners and drawing-room manners are disappointment, heartbreak, and a heavy secret (which, many years after the film's original 1992 release, doesn't pack the same wallop). Emma Thompson shows nuance and delight as Maggie while Hugh Laurie shows his dramatic capabilities. Other winning performances are given by Imelda Staunton and Tony Slattery. The setting is an absolute stunner, and viewers will wish they could spend a holiday at the manor. And the soundtrack will transport them to a sweeter time in the early '80s, when "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Cozy up for a delightfully unexpected evening with these Friends. --A.T. Hurley
How long have you been married now?
Almost three years.
Quite a long time for Hollywood, isn't it?
Don't you get some kind of a plaque?
Yes. We stay together five years I get a free hair transplant and she gets a new set of breasts.
What, so she'll have four?
Yes, but her agent gets one.