Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!] Friday, 10/23/2009, 7:00 PM Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts
“FOR EVERY NEED there is a misdeed.” The words belong to a low-rent scoundrel named Flash (Russell Brand), and he’s imparting his wisdom to the young ladies housed at St. Trinian’s, an English girl’s school that eschews proper manners for all-out anarchy. The girls are planning a heist — stealing Vermeer’s masterpiece “Girl With a Pearl Earring” from London’s national gallery — and Flash, who runs their fencing operation, is lending a hand. Not that they need the help. These are quite an assortment of self-sufficient young ladies. Little individual terror trains, they are.
And you just can’t help but adore the hellions who occupy the wickedly, wildly funny St. Trinian’s. The movie is based on the considerably more genteel 1955 The Belles of St. Trinian’s, which starred the magnificent Alistair Sim in the dual role of the school’s headmistress Millicent Fritton and her scheming brother, Clarence. Rupert Everett takes on the Fritton roles in this update, and his wry, off-the-cuff take on Camilla Fritton, with her slight hunch and unsavory overbite, is Everett’s best performance in years. He’s matched by Colin Firth’s straight-laced minister of education; the two share an inside joke that hilariously recalls a certain film the pair made together when they were much, much younger.
To be honest, there’s not much in the way of gay content in St. Trinian’s — a joke here or a reference there — and Everett’s drag turn is less a cross-dressing reference than it is an homage to a British comic tradition of funny men portraying even funnier women.
St. Trinian‘s is a loud, bracing wild mouse ride — zipping this way, zooming that, and frequently detouring into pure silliness before finally settling on a main course. Yet it’s a ride you’ll love, particularly if you’re partial to British humor.
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