By Susannah Breslin | August 4, 2000

Saving Grace is a contemporary story about an ordinary woman’s budding independence. At least, that’s what the press release says. Saving Grace is also a really corny movie about your Mom if Dad kicked the can and she decided to grow pot to raise some cashola. How this film–really “Four Weddings and a Funeral” without the four weddings or anything that made that movie even vaguely redeemable–garnered the Audience Award at Sundance 2000 is to be one of life’s great enigmas. It’s a feel good British movie ideal for gangs of middle-aged, middle-minded women on bored afternoons, and toxically saccharine to anyone else.
The movie stars Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies) as Grace Trevethen, a skittering idiot of a widowed woman who runs around all the time acting like every stereotype of what women over 40 are supposed to be: a little lost, a lot irritating, and banally well-intentioned. As it turns out, her just deathly-departed hubbie played fast and loose with the dough, and Gracie’s going to be out of a mansion if she doesn’t do something fast (prostitution’s not really an option). Luckily, The Drew Carey Show’s Craig Ferguson is working as her gardener and moonlighting as a burn-out, so one thing leads to another and soon Grace has traded in tending precious orchids for grooming mongo buds. They’re going to sell them and make lots money. Happens all the time.
Off they go from their little town in God Knows Where Britland, into London to make a deal with the biggest drugdealer in town. Grace turns professional pot-pusher and therefore goes home feeling empowered, but before you know it cops and robbers are running around on the family estate. Then, a bunch of people get naked. Don’t ask. It all turns out happy in the end. Even if it’s got a lot of marijuana in it, Saving Grace is still by-and-large unforgivably cliched and lame, a hokey rumination on a bunch of people too cliched and lame for anyone but those as cliched and lame to really care about them. It also revisits every joke already made a million times about pot–the hold-the-hit-in-until-the-cop-leaves choking scene, the getting-high-for-the-first-time-and-claiming-not-to-feel-anything-until-suddenly-laughing-a-lot-and-then-getting-the-munchies routine.
Interestingly, to co-blame for this pile of femme-senior, feel-good schlock is Ferguson himself, having co-written the script of Amazing Grace with producer Mark Crowdy. While Ferguson is himself a charismatic comedian, the script is bereft of any humor or edgy points-of-view, and his comedic charm here is lost in a sea of superficiality. Supposedly, Amazing Grace is done in the genre spirit of classic Ealing Comedy films, which seem to be basically Benny Hillian ruminations on just how kooky things can get when old British people run around acting retarded in preposterous situations. There’s a few side plots, including some clap-trap love story between Mr. Green Thumb and Miss Local Fisherwoman, all unmemorable. Better in the end to skip it, and make Mother go it alone.

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