How to Make Love Like an Englishman

Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba and Pierce Brosnan in How to Make Love like an Englishman (Englishman, LLC)
Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba and Pierce Brosnan in How to Make Love like an Englishman (Englishman, LLC)

What it's about:

A chauvinistic, womanising Cambridge poetry professor heads for a new life in Los Angeles with his beautiful and very pregnant, young student, but it's not long before his new commitment to being a faithful husband and father is challenged in the most unlikely ways.

What we thought:

Any film that has as many alternate titles as How to Make Love Like an Englishman (we get its original title, but it's also known in other territories as Some Kind of Beautiful and Lessons in Love – which sound for all the world like 1980s John Hughes teen comedies) is bound to be the sort of crass, crappy product that even those soulless studios are pretty embarrassed about. And, mostly, they kind of have the right to be. It's a plodding, misjudged and nowhere near funny enough romantic comedy with a cast that probably should know better and an ass-backwards kind of morality that you'd think we would have all long grown out of.

To be entirely honest, though, I didn't hate it anywhere near as much as I probably really should have. Dare I say it, I even kind of enjoyed it at times.

Part of it, to be sure, is that Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek are even easier on the eyes than the film's beautiful West Coast vistas (LA is known to be a notoriously ugly city, but you wouldn't think so from this movie) but there's also some fun to be had with Pierce Brosnan playing a charming but misanthropic, chauvinistic ass and Malcolm McDowell as his even more chauvinistic, curmudgeonly ass of a father. They kind of belong in a blacker, edgier comedy than this, but they are good for a chuckle or two.      

Their generally crummy world views both sit quite uneasily with the breezy and super generic romcom plotline, but, on the other hand, the cynicism of these two characters actually match the underlying cynicism of a movie that clearly exists as nothing more than an easy paycheck for all involved.

There's little real chemistry between the actors and the script and the direction (by Matthew Norman and Tom Vaughan respectively) clearly relies far more on the star power of the cast and the pretty locales than on halfway decent gags, logical plotting or even the smallest attempts to break away from its tried and tired formula. But hey, we get Jessica Alba in a bikini so all is right with the world, right?

Of course, considering just how little thought went into the film, it's equally pointless to really get too angry about it. It has come under a lot of fire for its less than progressive sexual politics but assuming that it even has any sort of political message – sexual or otherwise - is to give it way too much credit. This is clearly a movie with nothing at all to say, except perhaps for “give me your money” but, honestly, it's too half-assed to even be seen as a desperate cash-grab – desperation requires some effort, after all.

So, yes, feel free to ignore it until you catch it on a rainy Sunday afternoon on TV where you can at least appreciate its sunny aesthetic (unlike right now where the exterior shots of Snowpiercer seem preferable) but, in spite of its 11% rating on Metacritic, there's no real need to be too cross about it. It really isn't worth it.