Saving Grace

Ever since the wildly successful release of The Full Monty, critics christen every comedy from across the pond with any sort of potential as the next Full Monty. Saving Grace, a thoroughly pleasant experience, is the latest next Full Monty. The main drawback holding Saving Grace back from wide acceptance is the open use of pot. Regardless of the rightness or wrongfulness of marijuana use, a large part of the potential audience will not be able to suspend their disbelief for the span of the movie, and not attend this film because of the drug use. It is their loss. Pot is the catalyst in the film, drawing an unwitting woman into a strange life of crime.

Upon the death of her husband, Grace (Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice, Secrets and Lies) discovers the comfortable life she lives is a lie. Her husband hid mountains of debt, which she is now responsible for, and the credit collectors are repossessing her belongings one at a time. In a last ditch effort, she enlists her gardener and avid pot-smoker Matthew (Craig Ferguson, The Big Tease, ABC's Drew Carey Show) in a scheme for a one-time sale of a large crop of marijuana. Grace is a consummate gardner, and applies all of her skills and her greenhouse in her little scheme. The two live in a small town, and soon everyone knows what's going on in Grace's greenhouse. At night, the lights give an odd aurora borealis-like effect that becomes a hit with the town members. Everybody turns a blind eye, thinking that this is a one-time thing Grace needs to do to get out of debt.

Every small town has its cast of odd characters, and Saving Grace is no different. Writers Ferguson and Mark Crowdy give the town a Waking Ned Devine-like feel, with the friendly but strange cast of characters. There is Matthew's fisherwoman girlfriend who wants something more from their relationship, the pot-smoking doctor, and of course, the nosy neighbors. Blethyn, Ferguson, and the rest of the cast act naturally and fluidly with their roles. Blethyn does a nice job of portraying a woman lost in the world. Everything about her life is wrong, and now she is trying to deal with it. Grace is kind-hearted at heart, and is always willing to help others while skirting the law. She is deathly afraid of being caught by the authorities, even after she resigns herself to growing pot.

No movie about pot would be complete without a scene with everyone high. Saving Grace is no different. A plot twist late in the movie causes numerous residents of Grace's town to become, uh, high-spirited. Everybody affected plays their roles with a comedic abandon. In particular, Grace's friends serve as comic relief in an already funny film. Director Nigel Cole knows his way around the actors, and paces the story well. Most of the humor comes from watching these ordinary people do things that seem very out of touch with their vision of reality. Cole, Ferguson, and Blethyn together make Saving Grace (note the double play of the title) an amusing experience.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated R for drug content and langauge.

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