Ken was at the 12th British Film Festival held in Nantes in film Katorza, 3 rue Corneille in Nantes from 5 to 11 December 2007, to promote 12 In A Box.
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A funny four days around the manor
Writer-director John McKenzie admittedly fashioned the dark British farce "12 in a Box" after the understated old Ealing Studios comedies ("Kind Hearts and Coronets," "The Ladykillers") rather than take the more typically wacky -- and often tedious -- "slamming doors" approach.
The somewhat familiar premise finds a dozen folks showing up at an opulent (and, yes, boxy-looking) country manor expecting to attend a school reunion, only to discover, via a videotaped message, that they've been randomly chosen by the mansion's dying, heirless owner -- one of the school's elder alumni -- to receive a million pounds apiece, provided they don't leave the grounds for 96 hours. That last bit is, of course, easier said than done as a host of unexpected hurdles -- heart failure, sexual indiscretion, marital discord, an ill-timed robbery and more -- conspire to keep this suddenly greedy bunch from their payday.
McKenzie's smart, if riskier approach forced the filmmaker to concoct spontaneous, character-driven complications to pay off the movie's loaded setup rather than jerry-rigging the plot with some pre-ordained maze of obstacles. The result is a nicely calibrated romp peppered with more than a few genuinely funny moments.
The large cast performs with comic aplomb as McKenzie slowly ratchets up the stakes before going for broke in the final reel. It's jolly good fun.
-- Gary Goldstein "12 in a Box." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.
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