Movies based on board games have a pretty great track record lately, from the action-packed Battleship to the spine-tingling Ouija. So it’s no surprise to see a big screen adaptation of Balderdash, and I’m happy to write it’s just as funny as you would hope.
Of course, Balderdash is not quite as well known as Battleship and Ouija. The studio behind Balderdash knows this perfectly well, and the movie’s budget reflects this brand awareness deficit. There are no special effects, and the entire movie takes place on a single interior set dressed to look like a fancy dining room.
I imagine the bulk of the film’s funding was used to pay its exceptional ensemble cast: Ian McKellan, Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry, Hugo Weaving, Emma Thompson, Richard E. Grant, Jeremy Northam, Tom Hollander, David Thewlis, Richard Griffiths. Helena Bonham Carter, and Emily Mortimer. It’s money well spent in my book, as this cast knows how to talk, and talk fast!
Now before I say anything further about Balderdash, I must confess I have a hard time understanding British accents, especially when spoken at a very fast pace using highly sophisticated language. In other words, I have no idea what anyone was saying in this movie, but boy were they funny saying it.
It’s just fun to hear all these clever British folk trading quips and interrupting each other with dear old chap this and what a load of bollocks that. Even if you have to make up your own meanings for half the words they say like I did, you’ll still have a blast. England is cool.
TL;DR – Balderdash is a rousing British farce, with enough nonsense talk to keep your head spinning for days.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“I found the ribald, saucy jests and japes in this motion picture to be most risible!” – Cecil Dawswell, The Independent
“Weighing in at a brisk 75 minutes, Balderdash does have the advantage of brevity, and on screen no less than off, there’s much to be said for an incessant series of quick quips and drive by barbs.” – P.C. Bentley Blair, The Times
“I couldn’t follow the ultra fast paced dialogue hardly at all but the rest of the audience was laughing so I did too!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“Is there anyone but Mike Leigh who could have pulled off such an effervescent mix of wordplay, absurdism, and devastating rebuke? And attracted such an ensemble? And let everyone work at this high level?” – Legs Lavish, New York Observer
“A superbly timed mashup of Altman’s Gosford Park and Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel.” – Bertram Hopkinson, London Evening Standard
“I laughed so hard at the drollery on display that I have half a mind to go see the chemist and get my gasket checked!” – Neville Chubb, The Daily Telegraph
“Leigh juggles about fifteen different characters, moving them around the dining room table so uproariously and naturally that he doesn’t lose the audience for a minute.” – Eustachius Wallingford, The Guardian
“A succulent and devious dining room farce that, in its hyperverbal way, takes a puckish pleasure in scrambling and reshuffling the words of the English language.” Francis Kennard Colbeck, BBC
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