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This Is a Bust: Eddie Izzard as Tony in 'All the Queen's Men'

What a Drag

War movies are hell: 'All the Queen's Men'

By Richard von Busack

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT you'd seen every kind of screen ineptitude, All the Queen's Men presents new varieties. As a movie, it's like the cat's breakfast. It's a genre bender as well as a gender bender, another Transvestites Awareness Day comedy. And it's one of those bad old raunchy service comedies popular 40 years ago: The Secret War of Harry Frigg, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?; Which Way to the Front?--bonbons like that. And it's thinned with a tincture of the new, serious movies about World War II, including a mission to steal the Enigma decoding machine. The real enigma is why this atrocity was made in the first place.

All the Queen's Men stars Matt LeBlanc. Oh, how I weep for the happy lost days when, hearing the word Friends, I could think of blameless Quakers, instead of a sextet of actors whose collected movies have turned our multiplexes into Superfund sites. Readers, run the sad list through your minds--am I being unjust? And LeBlanc is the worst of the lot. In this opus, four soldiers clothed as women--"the poof platoon"--are dropped into Berlin to steal the decoding machine. LeBlanc is the leader O'Rourke, an OSS officer referred to as "Special Agent Almost" for his many bungled missions. The gaff is that he doesn't speak German. His assistants are a female impersonator Tony Parker (Eddie Izzard), a genius named "Johnno" Johnson (David Birkin, the only one who looks convincingly female--in drag he looks like Meryl Streep). The last of the four is an elderly cockney (James Cosmo). They make contact with an ex-Resistance member (Nicolette Krebitz) at the Berlin public library, and learn that the Enigma factory is disguised as a theme park in the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, O'Rourke falls for the librarian even as a Nazi officer (Udo Kier, who's only in two scenes) tries to amorously molest the hulking Izzard.

Back when Eddie Izzard was bruited about as England's funniest performer, he began to make movies (The Avengers, The Cat's Meow) without making an impression. So then came the rejoinder, "Well, you ought to see him in a dress." Here he is in a dress, doing two songs, one of which is Dietrich and the other isn't. Again, whatever there is that gives Izzard his rep is not to be seen onscreen. Cosmo has an affecting parting scene with his wife, before he leaves on this mission; but though we start to care about him, he's put through physical comedy that's like a species of elder abuse. Screenwriters David Schnieder and Stanford grad Jeff Stockwell can't give this wandering tale any wit, so they add violence and would-be heartwarming scenes, such as an annoying orphan that grabs Archie and won't let go. The director Stefan Ruzowitzky is unclear on the concept, as well. All that can be added is that All the Queen's Men could have used a cameo by Hitler, who, fans of The Simpsons will remember, was once fooled by Grandpa Abe in a dress and black fishnet stockings. "Das ist ein fake boobie!" the Fuhrer shrieked, discovering the ruse.

All the Queen's Men (Not rated; 105 minutes) directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, written by David Schneider and Jeff Stockwell, and starring Matt LeBlanc, Eddie Izzard, James Cosmo and Nicolette Krebitz, opens Friday at the Towne 3 in San Jose.

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From the October 24-30, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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