Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The King's Speech

This is one of the best movie posters I've
seen in a while
In "The King's Speech", there is no sex.  In "The King's Speech", there is no violence.  In "The King's Speech", no one gets shot, nothing blows up, nobody is playing anyone, nobody is stealing, no one gets murdered and nobody has a one night stand that leads to love later. 

In fact, in "The King's Speech", there are two scenes that keep this from being a PG movie and not an R... we'll get to that.

"The King's Speech" stars the president of The Colin Firth Club, Colin Firth himself, and is the story of The Duke of York, who eventually became King George VI in England.  Bertie is his real name, and he has an extraordinary problem... a severe stammer that leaves him unable to complete many sentences, let alone give speeches to the thousands that his family reigns over in the early part of the 20th century. 

Enter Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, who is a dynamic speech therapist, though the movie doesn't use the cliched "the doctor who has unusual methods that end up working when nothing else conventional would do the job" trick... while Logue's tricks are a little weird, there is nothing to indicate how different he is from others of the same ilk.  Rather, the movie then begins to concentrate on the relationship between Bertie, a proud man who through no fault of his own is handed the crown of England, and Logue, who reluctantly takes on Bertie as a patient, though begins to see him not as someone with a stammer, but someone who has such great potential and is letting his hindrance effect his entire life.  (run on sentence, anyone?)

About twenty minutes into the movie, I leaned over to The Lovely Steph Leann and whispered, "Colin Firth is going to win an Oscar."  Why?  Because Colin Firth is brilliant, from every single lip twitch to the emotion it takes to play this role. 

Bertie's wife, Queen Elizabeth, is portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, in one of her most subdued performances.  I'm sure that you, fair Coffee Drinker, that when you hear the words "Helena", "Bonham" and "Carter", you think the crazy queen in "Alice in Wonderland", or evil Bellatrix in "Harry Potter" or the nutjob in "Fight Club"... but here, she's very low key, very normal... very plain, which is exactly what she needs to be, as she is not the star, but one who supported Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in making this movie what it is.

By the way, have you ever seen "Howard's End"?  Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic in this, and normal too, though if you are doing "Howard's End", I'd just go straight to "Remains of the Day"--HBC is not in it, but its a beautiful film, one that has nothing to do with "The King's Speech", other than the fact there are Brits in it.

Anyway, the movie leads up to an actual speech that Bertie, now the King of England, must give as Britain barrels towards war with Germany in the late 30s.  He and Lionel work together to try and pull off what will be the most important speech given in a generation in that country, and I don't want to ruin the climax of the movie. 

Now, the Rated R.  About halfway through the film, there's a 30 second sequence where Bertie, while struggling in therapy through reading, reels off several curse words, including the F-Bomb about 10 times in a row.  Closer to the end, when Bertie, aka King George VI is practicing the big speech, he throws in a few more F-Bombs to get through some parts... and that's it.   I wouldn't take a 7 year old Campbell Isaiah to see this film, but I would easily let a 12 year old Camp watch it. 

Well, in saying that, that's assuming that a 12 year old would want to see it... as we sat in the theater, I looked around and saw that the median age of the theater--a theater 3/4th full, by the way--was about 55.  I thought I saw a few teenagers looking bored at the beginning, but mostly it was full of PawPaw and MeMaws on a Saturday afternoon date. 

Back to the movie... you might also notice another few Harry Potter alums, one being Michael Gambon (Dumbledore... I miss Richard Harris... sigh) as King George V, and Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew, aka Wormtail) as Winston Churchill, a performance I wasn't sure about when I saw it, but as the movie wore on, I got into his role.   The only casting I didn't like was having Guy Pierce play Bertie's older brother, Edward, and I just didn't buy it.  Colin Firth not only looks much older than Guy Pierce in the movie, but in real life, he's actually 7 years older than Pierce.

Right now, Christian Bale is the front runner for the
Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "The Fighter".  And
I think he should win it... but if Geoffrey Rush won it
for "The King's Speech", I would not complain one bit.

That notwithstanding, at the end of the movie, I turned to The Lovely Steph Leann and did my customary, "What did you think?"  She just sat and stared at the screen, and said aloud, "I thought... I thought that movie was fabulous."  Fabulous is a word that is reserved only for The Lovely Steph Leann's I Ching of greatness... Fabulous is only used on things that are so far and away superior, its mind blowing... O'Carr's chicken salad fruit plate is Fabulous.  Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" album is Fabulous.  Calah Ray is Fabulous.  And "The King's Speech", to The Lovely Steph Leann, is in fact, Fabulous. 

And I concur.  I posted via Facebook that the movie was "magnificent", and that's not a term you can use on "The Other Guys" (unless you are Hurricane Rhett).  The movie is paced well, its not flashy, it tells the story it wants to tell and doesn't continue on 20 minutes too long, and though the movie was made with the knowledge that it would probably win some awards, it doesn't feel pretentious or snobby. 

"The King's Speech" is one of those rare movies that entertains you, makes you feel great at the end, and leaves you with a feeling that you didn't just watch a movie, you experienced a movie.  Its almost a perfect movie, which is even more rare.

In a word, its Fabulous.


  1. I am dying to see this movie!! Might go next week sometime.

    The best part of this review is the fact that you linked "Hurricane Rhett" to Michael Bolton's "How Can We Be Lovers" video. Stroke of genius.

  2. Thanks for this review. My 11 year old daughter is dying to see this. I couldn't figure out what would make this an R rated film. You've solved that mystery for me. My daughter (pathetically) heard her father and I drop the bomb before... It's on.


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