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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

“You see, there is no difference between Islam and fishing.” “You’re ruining the quote.”

I watched this because it was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Comedy or Musical.”  Kudos to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for recognizing that comedies are a different kind of animal than dramas, and should be judged on a different basis.  But my gosh, they don’t know a good comedy when they see one.  “Les Miserables” won the award, and I’m happy about that, but how do soggy, slow, buttoned down things like this get nominated over better movies like “Cabin in the Woods,”  “Safety Not Guaranteed,” or “Pitch Perfect?”  That last one was both a comedy and a musical – should’ve been a shoo-in.

A western-educated sheik from Yemen (Amr Waked) loves fly-fishing outside of his English manor.  He mostly loves spouting trite aphorisms about faith and belief while fly-fishing; one wonders if he hasn’t seen “A River Runs Through It” too many times.  He wants to bring fly fishing to the Yemen, and is willing to pay serious money to make it happen — the kind of money that could effectively end hunger in his country, but he’s not interested in that sort of thing.  He wants there to be fish in the desert.  So there will be fish in the desert.

The British government needs a feel-good story to happen in the Middle East, so press secretary (or whatever the Brit equivalent is called) Kristen Scott Thomas gets behind the project with a vengeance.  Ewan McGregor plays a sarcastic, cynical fish scientist, who wants to do nothing but make fun of the ridiculous project, until he has a sudden change of heart and gets all dewey-eyed about it.  (Inexplicably, he also was nominated for a Golden Globe award.) Emily Blunt is his romantic interest, because you can’t have a movie like this without a romantic interest, cleverly disguised as the sheik’s assistant.

The whole thing is boring and preachy and obvious. It is utterly tame and buttoned-down as well; looking at the rest of the Golden Globe nominees (which include “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Moonrise Kingdom”) one wonders if the HFPA just wishes comedies wouldn’t be so darn rude all the time.  Frankly, I sympathize with that wish, but celebrating movies like “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” aren’t the answer.

Verdict: Not Recommended unless you’ve run out of sleeping pills


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