Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) R.I.P. Mike Nichols (1931-2014) Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Watch: Al Pacino Plays An Aging Rocker Transformed By John Lennon In First Trailer For ‘Danny Collins’ Watch: Al Pacino Plays An Aging Rocker Transformed By John Lennon In First Trailer For ‘Danny Collins’ Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Chloe Moretz, Elle Fanning & Hailee Steinfeld Eyed To Play Jean Grey In 'X-Men: Apocalypse' And More Chloe Moretz, Elle Fanning & Hailee Steinfeld Eyed To Play Jean Grey In 'X-Men: Apocalypse' And More Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Tribeca Review: 'Whole Lotta Sole' Is An Insufferable Comic Take On The British Gangster Movie

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist April 27, 2012 at 9:04AM

The title of "Whole Lotta Sole" is the kind of gratingly obnoxious flourish that makes you hate the movie immediately. First of all it sits in your mouth like a blob of half-chewed gummy bears; secondly, it sounds like a direct-to-video independent movie produced in the mid-90s that the Weinsteins picked up on a whim; and thirdly its implied double meaning – it's the name of a fish market in the film but its phonetic weight means something too ("whole lot of soul") – is meant to deepen the movie but instead leaves you even more irritated. The movie is pretty much exactly like that – it tries to sugarcoat the British gangster movie (and we're using the "British" term pretty broadly; it's set in Belfast) and leaves you totally annoyed and unsatisfied.
1
Whole Lotta Sole

The title of "Whole Lotta Sole" is the kind of gratingly obnoxious flourish that makes you hate the movie immediately. First of all it sits in your mouth like a blob of half-chewed gummy bears; secondly, it sounds like a direct-to-video independent movie produced in the mid-'90s that the Weinsteins picked up on a whim; and thirdly its implied double meaning – it's the name of a fish market in the film but its phonetic weight means something too ("whole lot of soul") – is meant to deepen the movie but instead leaves you even more irritated. The movie is pretty much exactly like that – it tries to sugarcoat the British gangster movie (and we're using the "British" term pretty broadly; it's set in Belfast) and leaves you totally annoyed and unsatisfied.

"Whole Lotta Sole" is the kind of movie that revels in hanging out with eccentric ("quirky") characters in this Irish town. We're first introduced to a couple of young dudes, one of whom, Jimbo (Martin McCann), is heavily indebted to a fearsome local gangster named Mad Dog Flynn (the gravel-voiced perpetual villain David O'Hara). Mad Dog tells Jimbo that unless he gets paid back in a few days, he's going to take Jimbo's infant child (Mad Dog is unable to have kids). Jimbo is clearly flustered and decides to rob the local fish market (which shares the title of the movie) but gets even more flummoxed when he realizes that the fish market is a front for Mad Dog's criminal activity.

Whole Lotta Sole

Running low on options (and with his small child in tow), Jimbo goes to an antiques shop run by Joe Maguire (Brendan Fraser, looking like he and Nic Cage share the same wig man), who may or may not be Jimbo's biological father (don't ask). Pretty soon a half-assed hostage situation has erupted, with Jimbo holding Joe, his girlfiend Sophie (Yaya DaCosta), and two young gypsy children who have hidden in a secondhand couch (don't ask) at gunpoint. A local cop named Weller (Colm Meaney) tries to take control of the situation, but is facing jurisdictional interference and Mad Dog himself, fearful of the contents of a bag that Jimbo stole from the fish market getting out, tries to end the standoff (with a bang).

There's a whole lot of local "color" in the movie, with a number of the characters referencing the conflict in Northern Ireland and a supporting cast that seems positively sprawling for a movie this tiny. And it is nice to have a real sense of both place and community, when so many comedies are bland and anonymously indistinguishable. DaCosta was a genius casting choice too, not only is she a great actress and totally beautiful, but her addition to the cast suggests the new Ireland, one vibrantly full (and accepting) of immigrants.

Whole Lotta Sole

"Whole Lotta Sole" falters, however, when the sheer number of subplots turn from additional texture to clunky white noise (seemingly everyone is involved in some kind of conflict, misunderstanding, or crazy scenario), and when its good-natured sensibility takes all the air out of any of the more crime-oriented elements of the story. It was like if someone got a hold of an old Guy Ritchie script (complete with a MacGuffin that everyone is after) and decided, instead of a hard-R crime movie punctuated by wacky characters, it would be a wacky comedy that tried to inject some of those harsher crime elements into its warm and fuzzy core. Sort of like if "The Guard" was totally defanged.

The result is a thunderously unfunny mess, anchored by a pair of performances that are screechy (McMann) and completely colorless (Fraser), with the conflict escalating without anything even remotely resembling tension. It's like someone yelling "this is intense!" but you're never actually feeling it. What makes "Whole Lotta Sole" even more baffling is that it was co-written and directed by Terry George, a man well versed in the drama of real life (he's directed things like "Hotel Rwanda" and "Reservation Road") and very recent Oscar winner (earlier this year he picked up a little naked gold man for a short film called "The Shore"), who seems to be going for something very different here and not quite making it. The movie is toothless and cute enough that it will easily win over art house audiences who don't like to be challenged or hassled. But everyone else will find "Whole Lotta Sole" banal and aggravating. [D]

This article is related to: Terry George, Stand Off, Brendan Fraser, Colm Meaney, Tribeca Film Festival, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates