Freddy Benson and Lawrence Jamieson are as opposite as they can be, and believe me, in this film, opposites do not attract. They irritate each other to no end, providing much of the comedy for this delightful movie.
Freddy (Steve Martin) is a small time con artist, using his dubious American charm to con soft-hearted women out of petty cash. He skips from resort to resort telling the same story of his ailing grandmother getting women to buy him meals and maybe forward him a couple hundred to pay for his grandmother's surgery.
Lawrence (Michael Caine) is everything that Freddy is not. He's wealthy, urbane, classy, and influential. Freddy spouts off to him when they meet on a train between resorts about how easy it is to take women for free stuff. Lawrence listens politely, but later has Freddy arrested. Why? Because Lawrence is also a con artist, but far bigger time than Freddy can even imagine. Lawrence targets the very wealthy but bored women who come to his resort to pass time. His gig is pretending to be a deposed king who needs large amounts of money to finance the rebels of his country and regain his throne. Women, thinking they are financing the fight against an unjust government, give him large amounts of money, with which he pays off the local police, maintains his villa, and lives the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
This works until Lawrence makes a very slight error, which Freddy jumps on and uses as blackmail to get Lawrence to train him how to be a big-time con. Lawrence agrees, and tries to mold Freddy into his own image. Eventually they clash and decide the resort isn't big enough for the both of them, so they make a bet to decide who will have to leave. The bet revolves around Glenne Headly, who plays a naive young American girl who comes to the resort. The first man to swindle her out of $50,000 wins the bet.
The bulk of the movie revolves around the two men's attempts to win this bet. Steve Martin is at his manic best, and Michael Caine positively makes you want to be swindled by him, he's so elegant and kind. Glenne Headly is a perfect foil of innocence for the two men; she makes one desire her and one want to protect her.
Frank Oz has given us a comedy that plays to all its actors' strengths, is well paced, beautifully photographed, and gives us many, many laugh-out-loud moments. It's completely sincere and unironic; you know that with the main characters what you see is what you get, and you love it. These are really fun characters. And because the story is told so directly (even though it is a story about deception), the viewer is taken completely, delightfully by surprise by the ending. The moral of this story? Never con a con...unless you're really good.
|Title||Dirty Rotten Scoundrels|