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Movie Review

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Reviewed by: Debbie James
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Preteen to Adult
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
1995
USA Release:
_____
Cover graphic of The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain
Featuring: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Colm Meaney, Ian McNeice, Kenneth Griffith
Director: Christopher Monger
Producer: _____
Distributor: Miramax

Filmed on location in Wales, this movie with an incredibly long title is actually based on a true story. In 1910, two English cartographers, Reginald Anson (Hugh Grant) and George Garrad (Ian McNeice) visit a small South Wales village, Taff’s Well, to measure what is claimed to be the “first mountain inside of Wales.” The villagers are quite fond of their mountain, named Ffynnon Garw, as it is tied to a local legend, and become outraged when the cartographers tell them that their mountain is, in fact, a hill because its elevation of 986 feet is under the required elevation of 1,000 feet for it to be classed a mountain.

Now the townspeople are abuzz about what they should do about their new-found predicament. Most of the discussions occur in the local pub, run by bartender, Morgan the Goat (Colm Meaney). The town minister, Rev. Robert Jones (Kenneth Griffith), gets an idea while reading the Bible, and shares it with the villagers during a church service. They finally agree on a plan, but they have to detain the Englishmen until they can pull it off. This leads to sabotage of all sorts, even pulling out the “big guns”—a local maiden named Betty (Tara Fitzgerald) to distract Reginald, hopefully to get him to fall in love with her.

This movie has the same feel to it as the recent “Waking Ned Devine”, with everyone in the village pulling together to achieve a shared goal. In addition to the comedic mayhem of the movie, the writers typify nearly every villager in British comedy style… eccentric and wacky in their own way.

Some positive elements of the movie are: everyone in the town are churchgoers except for the bartender, and the Bible is quoted. The minister often speaks out about the evils of alcohol and refuses to even step foot in “the den of iniquity” (the bar). Morgan is rebuked for saying the phrase “By God.”

Some negative elements are: 7 misuses of “God,” such as “Good God” and “For God’s sake,” etc., several minor swear words (“h—l” and “d—n”), and and several British terms (bugger and bloody). It is possible there may have been more offensive words used, because some of the characters’ dialect was hard to understand. There is smoking as well as drinking shown in the pub, one character jokingly squeezes a woman’s clothed breast, and there is one or two minor innuendoes spoken. The minister is involved in the sabotage efforts and is shown vandalizing.

The music and cimematography are very well-done and give the movie an authentic feel. If you like comedy, but don’t like pervasive foul language and sexual situations, then you should enjoy this. Be forewarned, though, even though the movie doesn’t contain much offensive material, the story does move somewhat slowly. Also, actor Hugh Grant plays yet another bumbling, awkward man in his typical acting style, which I found somewhat annoying.


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