By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist May 14, 2014 at 3:00PM
So this morning the Cannes opener “Grace of Monaco” screened for critics, to a stunned response (here’s our full review), a few whistles of derision, and a light smattering of ironic applause. How did we know it was ironic, you might ask, since applause is merely the sound of palm striking palm? Well, because it came after “Grace of Monaco,” that’s how. But in many ways, the film has proven the ideal first movie of a major festival--literally almost anything has to be an improvement after it, and perhaps nothing could have bonded an audience full of strangers together more than getting the opportunity to guffaw in unison at the many, many clangers dropped throughout (think of tossing a bag of hammers down the side of a quarry for the level of clanginess we’re talking about). It’ll be a little while before you guys will get to check out this epic fail of a film for yourselves, but in the meantime, there are so many choice moments of unintentional hilarity that we want to share with you, because this shit is just too good to keep a lid on. Here in no particular order, are our top six.
1. Derek Jacobi’s Parrot
In all honesty, Derek Jacobi’s whole performance should really be in here as it’s the gift that keeps on giving, even in the few hours since we’ve seen the film. But as Princess Grace’s etiquette and comportment coach, Count Something de Something, Jacobi really only gets a couple of distinctly “Kings Speech”-style montage scenes in which to make an impression, and seemingly the ormolu teapots and dandified cravats weren’t screaming “frou-frou aristocrat” loudly enough, so he goes with....a parrot, on his shoulder, Long John Silver-style. It’s only a brief moment, but it’s one of the times that we did a double take, as was the highly gif-able, meme-able close-up of his that ended the training montage: Grace Kelly has finally got her act together already and learned how to walk like a real princess instead of slouching about like an Oscar-winning actress and famed beauty, which earns her a single, curt but gracious nod from hard taskmaster The Count. It’s a moment that we feel must mean as much to Grace as all the Oscars and garlands in the world: JACOBI APPROVES.
2. Hitchcock’s Dialogue
Adding his name to the trivia answer about actors who have played Alfred Hitchcock, Roger Ashton-Griffiths plays the portly master of suspense this time out, and is introduced early being visibly taken with a particular tapestry hanging in the palace, while Parker Posey preaches to him about etiquette. Something about Hitch being thus taken with/struck by a tapestry already had us giggling, but it was his dialogue, and the sub-Hopkins vocal impersonation that Ashton-Griffiths delivers it in, that was even funnier. He’s Hitchock, see, so obviously he’ll never manage to get through a single sentence without shoehorning in a reference to one of his films, or some sort of life lesson delivered as an opaque nod to the craft of filmmaking. From the quick cut we have of him back in LA barking at (presumably) his screenwriter peremptorily “No no no! The Birds! Focus on the BIRDS!” to the screamingly contrived sagacity of, “Don’t stand too near to the edge of the frame, Gracie” delivered as nonsensical Life Advice, and voiced over a shot of Kidman, not just standing near the edge of the frame, but actually framed by a window frame too, not one line he speaks sounds like anything a human has ever said out loud. But a personal favorite is probably the tortuously offhand reply he delivers when Grace asks him who her co-star in “Marnie” would be; as near as we can remember he drawls something like, “Oh I don’t know. Cubby Broccoli has just cast some Scotsman in a spy movie, might be him.”
3. When In Doubt, Push In Real Close
Distracting on so many levels, and seemingly designed to eternally remind us that we’re not looking at Grace Kelly but Nicole Kidman, it feels like fully half the film is delivered in vaseline-smeared extreme closeups that wander around Kidman’s face like they’re searching for their car keys. It’s particularly pronounced in one long, long sequence in which Grace is being counselled by Father Tuck (Frank Langella) and the whole time either of them are speaking we’re looking at Kidman’s hairline, or her jawbone, or her eyelashes, or her right nostril or (often) her tear-streaked cheek. It has a woozy, discombobulating effect that ends up paradoxically putting us at even greater distance from Kelly’s presumed inner turmoil as we get hung up on things like the white of her eye (bloodshot) and the quality of her dye job (good) and just how utterly and completely different Nicole Kidman looks in every respect from Grace Kelly.