August 11, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

As in Waking Ned Devine and the Ealing Studios comedies that paved the way, Saving Grace wrings laughs from the antics of affable, eccentric villagers who cheerily break the law while even the vicar smiles benignly. This time, the genre takes a leaf from Cheech and Chong: Needing cash to save her stately home following the death of her husband, champion gardener and gracious lady Grace Trevethen (Brenda Blethyn, modulating her madcappery) goes into the marijuana-growing business. And what starts out as a joint partnership with her groundskeeper (The Drew Carey Show‘s Craig Ferguson, who also cowrote with Mark Crowdy) soon becomes everybody’s business.

I tend to get tetchy about the manufactured twee-ness of so many modern British comedies — everyone’s a ”type,” and inevitably some damn funny-looking or ancient person will strip or warble. But in deference to the movie’s dopey good vibes, I’ll hang loose, only to advise that Saving Grace doesn’t escape a scene of two unwittingly stoned crones stuffing munchies down each other’s gullets. C+

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