Mr Nice is a biopic about convicted drug dealer Howard Marks and his wife
Judy. Since it is based on their dueling autobiographies, you would
expect it to be at least somewhat self-glorifying and self-justifying, and you would be right,
but you probably would not guess the extent to which that is true. As Howard
tells it, he only dealt in cannabis, a virtually harmless substance that
should be legalized, and therefore did nothing really wrong, even if it was
illegal. While he was dealing, he never carried a weapon or committed a
violent act, yet almost singlehandedy wiped out Irish terrorism and organized
crime. While in
prison, he helped all the innocent men get released, and helped all the guilty
men get rehabilitated and educated. He was braver than Sgt. York and smarter
than Socrates, was irresistible to women, and was a better husband and father
than Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Everyone who knew him loved him.
Although purportedly a true story, it is less credible than most fiction.
Hell, it is less credible than most Road Runner cartoons. It makes Watchmen
seem like gritty realism. On the other hand, maybe some of it is true, or at
least reasonably close to the truth. I hope so, because Marks is a funny and
entertaining storyteller. Frankly, I'm not going to look up any of the details, because
if I were to research the story and find out that all his claims have been
debunked, I'd be disappointed.
I enjoyed it so much and learned so much from it that I want it to be true.
The one element that really makes the story entertaining is the film's
portrayal of Jim McCann, a batshit crazy IRA captain who called himself the
Shamrock Pimpernel. When McCann isn't threatening to shoot people's kneecaps,
he's painting funny faces on his penis, watching barnyard porno in public, and
just generally being completely out of control. At one point he is completely
surrounded by police offers and manages to get away by blasting away wildly
with an automatic weapon while setting off several green smoke bombs and
disappearing in the mist. Yes, that particular incident seems utterly
impossible and I doubt whether anything like that ever happened, but I have
the real Jim McCann ("My name is Mr Nobody. My address
is The World.") was actually even crazier than the character in this
The Welsh comic Rhys Ifans, a favorite of mine, is cool and funny and
immensely likeable as Howard Marks, but the real star performance of the film
is turned in by David Thewlis, who delivers a brilliantly demented
interpretation of McCann. The only weak performance resulted from the
inexplicable casting of an American, Chloe Sevigny, as Marks' English wife.
She's a solid performer in general, but she has a different accent in every
scene, and her characterization seems too weak and wimpy to have done all the
things Judy Marks did. I don't get it. Why not just hire a stronger and
comparably sexy English actress? Oh, well. Maybe that's just me being
persnickety, because it isn't important enough to spoil the film.
Bernard Rose, the director of this film, has had a curiously eclectic
career. He wrote and directed a popular horror film named Candyman, which was
adapted from a Clive Barker story. He wrote and directed a romantic Beethoven
biopic called Immortal Beloved, which was an original screenplay.
He wrote and directed a "Hollywood Insider" film called Ivansxtc, which was a
modern interpretation of a Tolstoy story. I've seen all three of those films
plus Mr Nice and I liked them all, but without IMDb at my fingertips I never
would have guessed that they were all created by the same man. He's also
created several others that I haven't seen, and it is almost impossible
to find any common thread running through them. Bernard Rose is a very
But also a competent one.
6.6 at IMDb
50% at Rotten Tomatoes
It grossed abut a million bucks in the UK on about 100
screens. It has never had a North American release.
Chloe Sevigny's four brief
nude scenes in 720p
And here's a
pot-fueled orgy from Marks' college days. Elsa Pataky is in there
somewhere, as well as a host of unidentified actresses.