We gave it a C+
The British writer-director Peter Chelsom works so hard to be charming (and wistful and jokey and touching and visually poetic) that he ends up with a labored version of Bill Forsyth’s magical realism. This overchewed bit of whimsy is about a young nightclub comic, Tommy Fawkes (Oliver Platt), who bombs in Las Vegas in front of his famous, overbearing comedian father (Jerry Lewis) and then travels to his childhood home of Blackpool, England-a seacoast mecca of vaudeville-to find his comic roots. Platt, a beetle-browed scene-stealer, gives a star performance. As soon as Tommy gets to Blackpool, though, the character recedes into a puddle of woozy subplots. Chelsom introduces a freakish parade of British music-hall eccentrics, but he doesn’t so much showcase the performers as fetishize them; the link between their oddball circus clowning and the audience-slaughtering nightclub style of Lewis and Platt remains vague and conceptual. Still, the film offers some disparate pleasures. One of the British performers is amazing-Lee Evans, a kind of manic surrealist mime-and Lewis does a smoothly funny job riffing on his own image.