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Overall Rating
4.56

Awesome88.89%
Worth A Look: 0%
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Sucks: 11.11%

1 review, 3 user ratings



Search For John Gissing, The
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by Jason Whyte

"Sometimes, Blake Edwards-inspired comedies can be a good thing!"
5 stars

Sometimes, you sit back and wonder why the good movies get passed on. And I’m not referring to movies like “Grindhouse” that get ignored by the masses. No, I’m talking about the independent movies that don’t even get picked up by a distributor. These movies come out at a film festival or through an independent source and pretty much stay there, unable to break into the marketplace. Sometimes, these films are so bad or so trite that they stay there, but there are some gems that just slip through the system and wind up unseen, unreleased.

I first viewed “The Search For John Gissing” back in 2002 at the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival. It was the first film festival that I ever attended, and “Gissing” was one of the first films I recall seeing. I was just discovering the wild, insane world of film festivals, and it was partially because of this film that I continued on my life journey on discovering new and interesting films from all over the world. I had a passion to venture out of the multiplex crowd and always try new movies from all corners of the world. It is a passion that continues to this day.

It’s nearing the end of the decade, and I can now safely say that “The Search For John Gissing” is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen since the millennium began. Here is a movie that has its rough edges, but in a way that’s good because the film makes you laugh at the American Way versus the British Way and how a whole stack of interesting, fully developed characters bounce off one another. It also solidifies writer/director/actor Mike Binder (whose last film was the criminally underrated “Reign Over Me”) who has had a solid career in comic and dramatic filmmaking and is at the top of his game here. If anything, he’s channelling Blake Edwards circa the 1970’s in the film, and that’s a good thing if you ask me.

Matthew Barnes (Binder) works for a multinational company called CompuCore that is about to have a big merger with a German firm. With his wife Linda (Janeane Garofalo) in tow, the two have arranged to be picked up by John Gissing (Alan Rickman) in London. Gissing, you see, also works for the company and learns that he is going to be replaced by Barnes. What Barnes starts to realize is Gissing has it in for him and starts to play games, including stranding the two in London and winding up in the care of a nun (the lovely Sonya Walger, who later became a staple in Binder’s HBO series “Mind of the Married Man”).

Gissing and Matthew are kept apart for a generous amount of time, a great idea to build up the momentum of the situation. Gissing knows he is going to be replaced and wants nothing of being passed off to the next guy. When the two of them finally meet, there’s a great moment where the two of them realize that they are just pawns in a much bigger game, and how Gissing is physically uncapable of picking up someone like Barnes at the airport. Eventually, they band together when they find out they can net five-million dollars from the deal.

I knew Binder’s work before “Gissing”, especially when he directed “Indian Summer” back in 1994. But it was this film that made me sit up and pay attention to a deeply talented individual who knows how to write and direct comedy. These days, so many comedies TELL you what’s funny and pound the laughs out of you, and it is so rare that a comedy gets laughs out of the audience by way of developed characters, situation and physical comedy. That Binder is able to balance all of this is nothing short of great.

And like the recent "Knocked Up" which is also a recent comedy that falls under the same strengths, part of the success of “Gissing” rests on the actors playing the parts. A great quality of the casting is how everyone brings their own style of comedy to the table, so you get so many valuable types of comic performance, especially noteworthy since you have both styling of American (Binder, Garofalo) and British (Rickman, along with Juliet Stevenson and Allan Corduner).

I also don’t mind a film ending on a song-and-dance number, as long as there’s a reason for it. Binder decides to end the film on the entire cast tap-dancing along to a delightful song called “World of a King”, letting a happy ending dance off into the aisles. It’s a great way to end such a fun and uplifting comedy.

With “Gissing” going around so many festivals undistributed and now finally available on DVD (through his site thefreebird.com), I’m hoping that a few more people will get the chance to check out a comedy that is simultaneously smart, full of great energy, has wickedly fun performances from all corners and actually earns its belly-laughs. When I do my “Funniest of the Decade” piece in three years, you can be assured that Gissing will be found.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16396&reviewer=350
originally posted: 07/20/07 14:09:01
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User Comments

12/13/08 Lee only stupid people could enjoy this shlop, the writing is atrocious 1 stars
9/04/07 Drew Great Movie 5 stars
9/03/07 Lynn This has to be one of the best and funniest films I have seen in quite ahile 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Feb-2002 (NR)
  DVD: 24-Jul-2007

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