Although the setup to this British crime comedy is a bit of a stretch, the execution is often quite funny, and let’s face it: anytime you get a chance to see a new film starring Sam Rockwell, you jump on it.
Blue Iguana is the latest from writer/director Hadi Hajaig (Cleanskin, Puritan) and features best friends and former convicts Eddie (Rockwell) and Paul (Ben Schwartz), presently on parole and working at a New York diner, who are paid a visit at work by bookish British lawyer Katherine (Phoebe Fox) who offers them a deal to steal something for her back in London for a sizable fee. As with most British gangster movies (comical or otherwise), this one features a host of colorful players, some working with the Yanks and others working for crazed mid-level crime boss Deacon Bradshaw (Peter Ferdinando), sporting a full-on mullet that only serves to make him look more insane.
Blue Iguana’s plot is ultimately the least important thing about it, with Eddie and Paul exploring London’s unique destinations while on a long-term stakeout to find the whereabouts of a valuable jewel called…the Blue Iguana. Eddie is a curious guy and intrigued by Katherine’s mysterious history, which includes a series of bad decisions regarding her previous boyfriend, making her quite skittish about getting involved with Eddie now. Meanwhile, Paul becomes infatuated with an older woman (Amanda Donohoe) who works as a bartender near their stakeout. There are times when it seems the reason this pair of ex-jailbirds is even in the movie is for British characters to mock their brash American-isms, and they fully deserve it as they spend a great deal of the film changing finely tuned plans on the fly and just generally causing chaos.
Of the multitude of supporting players, the real standout is Simon Callow as Katherine’s dashing Uncle Martin, who recruits a group of elderly (and equally dashing) friends to act as surveillance agents for her plot with some wildly inappropriate, quite graphic results. The stakes of Blue Iguana aren’t particularly high on the surface, but for quite a few of the participants, having this score work out means a great deal more to them than simply the wad of cash—it’s a much-needed confidence booster that will make it possible for them to move forward in whatever line of work they choose.
With different actors, the movie might not work, but Rockwell and Schwartz show promise as a comedic pairing, and even though I seriously doubt a sequel is in the works, I would love to know what these two get up to down the road a piece. That’s as good a sign as any that a film got under your skin enough to make you enjoy the experience watching it.
The film opens today for a weeklong run at Facets Cinémathèque.
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