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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Victorian bachelors Jack and Algernon scheme, maneuver and masquerade Wildely to secure perfect wives.

(Now in stores)

CAST: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey, Edward Fox, Charles Kay

DIRECTOR: Oliver Parker


"What would Wilde have made of the embellishments Mr. Parker has tacked onto the play like a reckless dressmaker tarting up a Chanel suit to resemble a Versace gown?...Wilde's famous epigrams remain intact and are reasonably well spoken. But the extra visual accouterments have a profoundly distracting effect...For all its distractions and additions, 'The Importance of Being Earnest is still a reasonably entertaining costume comedy. Wilde's satirical voice may be muffled, but at least it is audible."-Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"The best moments in Oliver Parker's screen adaptation of Oscar Wilde's comedy 'The Importance of Being Earnest' are when the movie just sits back and lets Wilde's supremely witty scenes play...When the movie misfires-in the dreadful 'fantasy' sequences in which Cecily's girlish romantic dreams are staged as Pre-Raphaelite tableaux, or the jarring flashback revealing Lady Bracknell's 'secret' past as a chorus girl-Parker just gets in the way, spoiling the rhythm of Wilde's shapely comic scenes with fussy business...Firth's comic timing is subtle and seductive, and plays nicely off Everett's jaded foppery. Witherspoon is quite at home in the English surroundings, but surprisingly misses much of her character's humor." --David Ansen, Newsweek

"...The best approach is to treat the high witticisms with the utmost seriousness; the worst is to broaden everything until, as is the case with the new film version directed by Oliver Parker, you have a rampaging yukfest...He 'opens up' a play that was perfectly wonderful closed down." --Peter Rainer, New York

"For Oliver Parker, the importance of adapting Earnest lies in the text--not the context, and certainly not the subtext. Much like his previous Oscar screener, 'An Ideal Husband,' Parker's rendition is a proficient skim of the Man With the Green Carnation's wit and wisdom, piped by an able crew of quick-tongued ventriloquists... 'Earnest' boasts perfect pitch, thanks mainly to the blithe, nimble actors. Everett and Firth's ruefully affectionate, roughhousing chemistry feels decades lived-in, Witherspoon's matter-of-fact daftness keeps daydreamy Cecily tethered to earth, and you will know Judi Dench by the trail of dead (as imperious Lady Bracknell, the mother of all mothers)."--Jessica Winter, The Village Voice

"Frances O'Connor is encouraged to project the sexual assertiveness of a 1930s Hollywood dame...Reese Witherspoon, as Jack's ward and Algernon's love interest, Cecily, burns off leftover mannerisms from ''Legally Blonde''... Gwendolen is seen getting the name 'Ernest' tattooed on her rump, but why?... The antics are wacky -- but far from Wilde." Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"Written to skewer the upper class of its time, the script is now just a broad joke-fest, clever lines batted back and forth like badminton shuttlecocks...Firth, with a certain starch in his manner, is perfect as the vulnerable, love-struck Jack, while Everett's late-blooming comedy skills suit the winsome loser Algie...Important, 'Earnest' is not, but if you're looking for a break from the popcorn features dominating theaters, you may find it worthy." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"If it worked [for director Anthony Asquith] 50 years ago, why shouldn't it work today? It should, but it seldom does in this strained, cutesy, busily cinematic interpretation by Oliver Parker...Judi Dench is entertaining, if not particularly subtle...and Rupert Everett is Rupert Everett. What about all-American Reese Witherspoon in the role of flighty, virginal Cecily? She gives it her best shot, but she'll never be legally Brit." --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed