Running Time: 101 mins
Rated: Rated M (moderate drug references, sexual references)
Older reviewers often succumb to the temptation of living in the past, especially where old movies are concerned. The older film is the classic. The remake is beneath contempt. Often they have not seen the older movie for decades and might be surprised to discover how creaky in style it really is.
Audiences who have not seen the 1954 Belles of St Trinians or its rather raucous sequels may find this farce quite amusing. But for those who enjoyed the old film in its time, who can replace Alistair Sim with his characteristic doddering and fussing or even George Cole as Flash Harry? We found this film uproarious, especially as we enjoyed the cartoon books of Ronald Searle on which the film was based.
The credits for the 2007 version state that it is based on the original film and there is a debt of gratitude expressed to Ronald Searle. But, this crowd of monstrous girls at the hell school to end all schools are too 21st century knowing rather than the little school thugs of more simple times. That said, this St Trinians starts slowly, emphasis on the adults and then gradually moves to the girls and their scheme to steal Scarlett Johannson, well actually Vermeer's The Girl with the Pearl Earrings from the National Gallery while Stephen Fry is comparing TV's School Challenge.
This time the brother cad to the headmistress, Miss Fritton, is played by Rupert Everett - and, in the tradition, he plays Miss Fritton. He gives it his best but he does not have the befussed manner of Alistair Sim. Everett is rather calculating. Colin Firth does the minister for Education in his usual serious style and there are some Pride and Prejudice jokes as he comes out of the water as he did in the series - and Miss Fritton's dog who keeps attacking him is Mr Darcy. The girls make a reference to him by name since he starred in The Girl with the Pearl Earrings. A number of other film and TV jokes as well. Russell Brand makes a fair fist of Flash Harry. Firth and Everett singing Love is in the Air over the final credits is nicely amusing.
Lots of farcical behaviour, noisy, silly - more, perhaps less, in the spirit of the original St Trinians. (And director Oliver Parker who made a creditable Othello and An Ideal Husband also made the execrable Importance of Being Earnest with Everett and Firth).
Sony Out March 27
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting