30 June 2011

The Films of Jonathan Lynn: Nuns on the Run

Since the internet can't produce any SFW pictures of
"young Camille Corduri" here is some compulsory fan art

Nuns on the Run, released 1990 by 20th Century Fox, produced by Handmade Films, Written by Jonathan Lynn.

Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane dress as brides of Christ in a scenario largely reminiscent of “Some Like It Hot” in a movie released a full two years before “Sister Act” with a small amount of “Blues Brothers” thrown in with at least one direct shout out to “Charlie’s Aunt”.

Most guys will recognize that dude from Monty Python and Hagrid straight off the bat, but the third lead is none other than Jackie Tyler herself, Camille Coduri. I’d surmise that it’s very hard to combine sexy and comical, so that a comedienne you can spank to is a valuable and rare find, but It’s probably because I’m really into hot chicks who tell jokes. Either way, Corduri really is this movie’s hidden treasure. Her character, Faith, plays very much like Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot: the bombshell love interest. But unlike Monroe’s “Sugar Kane”, Faith is comically near sighted (making her “blind faith”, a visual punning gag used nine years before Shannon Elizabeth’s character Justice in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”). When she isn’t naively and appealingly falling in love with a guy twice her age, she’s taking pratfalls and gunshot wounds, making her a true participant in the farce, rather than a detached outside observer.

On the whole, ‘Nuns on the Run’ is a better film than Clue in many ways: better ADR and continuity for instance, but it’s got crap villains. Brian Hope (Idle) and Charlie Mc Manus(Coltrane) dress in drag to hide from the mob. But the gangsters just aren’t that threatening. The main antagonist, Casey the gangleader (played by ), always accompanied by an “evil” guitar riff, fails to intimidate or believably come across as a guy who could head up a London gang. The rival gang, the Triads, come a across as little more than “evil asian” stereotypes. I wouldn’t call the stereotypes hateful, or intentionally offensive, but there’s no believability in the possibility these thinly drawn bad guys might win, killing a great deal of the tension in the film.

Oh yeah, and God’s pretty much an active character. Like in John Landis’s “The Blues Brothers”, the characters make mention and even supposition of divine intervention. But while Jake and Ellwood Blues were protected by a diety who would send literal illumination from above. God works differently with Brian and Charlie. Pretty much every coincidence in the movie can be interpreted as an act of God, from Brian and Charlie’s getaway car randomly running out of fuel to (SPOILER), the nuns of the Training school getting a suitcase full of much needed money for their drug rehabilitation clinic, Jonathan Lynn’s version of God works in strange ways. My favorite gag in the movie is when Casey has the heroes dead-to-rights at gunpoint in a hospital. When he’s about to pull the trigger, he’s smacked into by a crash-cart team. Deus Ex Machina, with a real machine no less!

Sure, 'Nuns' may not have the best jokes or comedic setpieces that hit the highs I mentioned in 'Clue', but it's got a solid plot construction, charming and likeable actors (important for light comedy), and served as enough of a commercial and artistic success to get Jonathan Lynn his next directing project with Fox, "My Cousin Vinny".

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