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The Importance of Being Earnest

2002

PG CC

Starring Reese Witherspoon (LEGALLY BLONDE), Colin Firth (BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY), and Rupert Everett (MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING), here is the hilarious adventure of two dashing young bachelors and the outrageous deceptions they find themselves in over love!

Starring:
Rupert Everett, Colin Firth
Runtime:
1 hour, 33 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance, Comedy
Director Oliver Parker
Starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth
Supporting actors Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey, Edward Fox, Patrick Godfrey, Charles Kay, Cyril Shaps, Marsha Fitzalan, Finty Williams, Guy Bensley, Christina Robert, Kiera Chaplin, Alexandra Kobi, Suzie Boyle, Kate Coyne, Bernadette Iglich
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
After reading the reviews of this 2002 production of The Importance of Being Earnest here and elsewhere, I must say my expectations were fairly low. What a wonderful surprise awaited me. The fact that Oliver Parker chose to make a FILM, rather than a filmed play, seems to have upset a number of people. Nevertheless, he made savvy - if sometimes audacious - choices in adapting Oscar Wilde's oft-produced play for the cinema.

While most people agree that Ernest is one of the wittiest plays in the English language, I find that stage productions of it have an unfortunate tendency towards being precious: smug actors smirk at one another as they affectedly recite epigrams in between sips of tea (pinkies out, naturally). Parker's film nicely sidesteps this potential problem by transforming the prototypical English drawing-room comedy into a dynamic, visually rich and marvelously acted film. You also may be pleased to know that the oft-heard caviles regarding Reese Witherspoon's English accent are completely unwarranted. Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD
I cannot imagine a better cast for this film. That makes this dreadful travesty of Oscar Wilde's play even more appalling. Oliver Parker's hubris in thinking that he can improve on Oscar Wilde and one of the finest comedies in the English language is an outrage. He has cut some of Wilde's best lines, only to replace them with idiotic dream sequences, a ridiculous subplot involving Algernon's creditors, and even a hot-air ballon ride. Further, the production is heavy-handed and the music is just wrong.
All this pales in comparison to the overwhelming vulgarity of the scene in which Gwendolyn gets a tattoo, and fabricating a past as a chorus girl for Lady Bracknell. Mr. Parker clearly understands neither the characters, the play, nor Mr. Wilde himself. I can only conclude that his credit on An Ideal Husband is in error.
It is one thing to dig up Mr. Wilde's bones, but Mr. Parker has gnawed on them. He should be sentenced to a term in Reading Gaol for his overweening presumption and prohibited, by force if necessary, from ever again making another film.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is an inventive and artful production of Oscar Wilde's play, but I can confidently say that were Oscar Wilde alive today, he would be appalled at the misuse to which his play has been put. Indeed I think I feel the ground rumbling as he rolls over in his grave, and yes he is actually spinning in anguish.

Oliver Parker, who directed and wrote the screen adaptation, simply misinterpreted the play. He focused on the "dashing young bachelors" when the real focus of the play is Lady Bracknell, the absurd and beautifully ironic representation of the Victorian mind who was then and has been for over a hundred years Wilde's singular creation and one of the great characters of English literature. She is supposed to steal every scene she is in and we are to double take everyone of her speeches as we feel that she is simultaneous absurd and exactly right. Instead Judi Dench's Lady Bracknell (and I don't blame Dench who is a fine actress) is harsh and stern and literal to the point of being a controlling matriarch when what Wilde had in mind was somebody who was both pompous and almost idiotic yet capable of a penetrating and cynical wisdom (so like the author's). Compared to Dane Edith Evans's brilliant performance in the celebrated cinematic production from 1952, Dench's Lady Bracknell is positively one-dimensional.

The point of Wilde's play was to simultaneously delight and satirize the Victorian audience who came to watch the play. This is the genius of the play: the play-goer might view all of the values of bourgeois society being upheld while at the same time they are being made fun of. Not an easy trick, but that is why The Importance of Being Earnest is considered one of the greatest plays ever written.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I purchased this after reading the book, which I found charming and was anxious to see it on screen. I am a fan of both Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, so despite some of the poor reviews of their acting in this film, I went ahead and purchased the movie. I should've listened to those reviews however, because Firth plays a horrid Jack Worthing! He plays Worthing the same way he played Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, which is all wrong for Jack's character. And as much as I like Reese Witherspoon, she just didn't catch the essence of Cecily at all. The dialog - which was sharp and witty in my head reading the play - is just dead in this movie version. Too slow for sure, but it's missing something else, almost like the actors just didn't "get" the humor (maybe forgivable for Witherspoon, who is American, but what is Firth's excuse?), or maybe it had to do with the director, I don't know, but the fact remains this movie just doesn't "work." The tattoo scene, especially, which is not in Wilde's play, struck me as a bad attempt at perhaps adding a little sex appeal to draw a younger crowd. Was there anything to smile about in this movie version? Rupert Everett played a pretty good Algy, as did Tom Wilkinson as Dr Chasuble and Anna Massey as Miss Prism. The sets were beautiful, but none of this makes up for the lack of spark among the main actors (particularly Firth and Witherspoon) and the mishandling of the dialog.
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