Love, Honour and Obey (November 13/02)
Despite an impressive cast - including Jude Law and Ray Winstone - Love, Honour and Obey never becomes anything more than a mildly entertaining time-waster.
Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller stars as Jonny, an underachieving loser whose best friend Jude (Law) has family connections to the British mob. Jude's uncle is Ray (Winstone), a tough gangster who's initially reluctant in hiring Jonny, but agrees to do so based on Jude's word. This turns out to be quite a bad decision, though, because Jonny's something of a hothead with a temper. He quickly raises the ire of another local gangster named Sean (Sean Pertwee), and especially one of his thugs (Rhys Ifans), by stealing some cocaine from the two.
Love, Honour and Obey is supposed to be a comedy - at least, I think it's supposed to be a comedy - but all the so-called jokes are about as funny as a coronary. One of the film's running gags involves a hapless minion who keeps getting hurt and humiliated in a variety of ways (when Jonny first meets him, he stabs him in the gut - a move which provokes raucous laughter among the other gangsters). Bizarre stuff like that is what passes for humor in this movie, which would have been fine, had the film contained an interesting storyline or decent characters (it doesn't).
The film's been written and directed by Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis, and suffers from just the sort of overindulgence that is sometimes associated with people who direct their own material. It's as if nobody kept these guys in check, told them what worked and didn't; Love, Honour and Obey plays like a rough draft. Right off the bat, with the various characters named after the actors who play them, the film exudes a tone of smugness - surely the filmmakers thought they were being clever, but really, much of the movie just comes off as amateurish. Add to that a recurring bit featuring the various characters singing in a karaoke bar, and you've got a recipe for a disastrously overblown mess.
The really incredible thing here is that the movie manages to waste great actors like Law, Winstone and noted scene-stealer Ifans. They're trapped playing either caricatures or characters that are so scarcely developed that's it's impossible to care about them. Which is a shame, really, because how often are actors this good going to be gathered in one movie?