I like to expose myself to a fairly wide variety of movies, so when I found out that "Keeping Mum" existed (and that Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson both had roles), I knew it was a movie that should nicely supplement my almost steady diet of action movies and depthless comedies.
The idea behind the movie is that a vicar (Atkinson) is struggling to keep his parish in order while his own household is falling apart at the seams. His daughter parades through an endless series of boys--sleeping with them, for the most part--and is pretty much a total slut (and 17, she says, though the fact that we see the actress's breasts on more than one occasion suggests that the actress herself is older). His wife has begun taking lessons from an American golfing instructor (Patrick Swayze) who likes to talk about wood and strokes just a bit too much. Then there's the vicar's son, who is afraid of his classmates because they see in him a weakling they can pick on at will.
Into this not-so-ideal world comes the new housekeeper, played by Maggie Smith. It doesn't take her long to get the lay of the land. Suddenly, things start going right and it becomes clear that the comedy is going to be about how one person can make a difference in the lives of a disfunctional family and turn things completely around. Or, at the very least, make things go wrong in rather interesting new ways.
With the formula set, the remainder of the film goes through the steps necessary to make things happen about like you'd expect if you've seen mildly dark comedies in the past. There are perhaps two or three clever lines in the whole movie that had me laughing, while the rest of the events are just funny if you stop to think about them. Things got very predictable very quickly, but there were also a few small surprises and things remained interesting enough throughout that by the time the credits rolled, I was sad to see everything come to an end but satisfied with the progression of events.
Ultimately, this is the sort of movie that makes a good rental if you're in the mood for something a little different. Aside from the beautiful cinematography (love that English countryside) and perhaps the occasional flash of bosom, there's not much here that might prompt me to go through a second viewing anytime soon. I'm happy I saw the movie but my collection will survive without its permanent residence. I won't be keeping "Keeping Mum."
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