Monty Python's John Cleese makes this lighthearted farce work as a tightly wound, punctilious public school headmaster whose well-organized life unravels in a series of disasters on his journey to a conference. Cleese is a... more » master of fussy, fastidious characters in exasperating situations, bottling up his frustration under good manners and sardonic comments until he finally blows, but he's also startlingly vulnerable as he systematically loses all sense of himself. Dressed in monk's robes and stranded on a lonely country road, he looks down at his naked wrist and sighs, "I've even lost the time." Michael Fryan (the playwright of Noises Off) doesn't really have much of a story behind the situations, but he provides plenty of complications, and Cleese holds the film together with his brittle manner, single-minded drive, and hilarious headmaster's condescending haughtiness. While it will seem slight to many, Cleese fans will love it. --Sean Axmaker« less
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 04/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Cleese doing what Cleese does best. Right, I mean insanity by inches.
He starts as a utterly rigid headmaster, the kind so precise that he stops in mid-sentence to make sure that the clock ticks when it should. Right. He sets out, at the precise moment, to accept a major award for himself and his school. Right?
Then just a little thing happens. A very little thing. He asks the way to the train - which is it? Left?
And right he goes. From that point forward, it's a comedy of errors. At each new error, Cleese's character adds a notch to the pressure. Step by step, the frenzy increases, new characters add their bits to the pressure ("sherry glasses", for example), until you expect everyone to burst a vein. Somewhere along the line, Cleese ends up in just his boxers, as required. The ending is very British, with all of the various police jurisdictions politely working out which characters go to which gaols.
I swear, I've had days like that.
There are a few nits to pick here. That high-school girl had more of a twenty-something look about her, for example. But c'mon, the story works, the characters work, the mishaps work, and it all comes together in the perfect "thank gawd it's not me" experience.
If you set your expectations low enough, this is sure to exceed them. It's a specimen of the 'goofy britcom' species, and a stunning one at that. Enjoy it for what it is.
Vintage British Comedy
www.DavidLRattigan.com | United Kingdom | 01/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was clearly designed as a vehicle for John Cleese, cashing in on his international fame as Basil Fawlty. Here, as headmaster Brian Stimpson, he gets to engage in all the familiar Fawltyesque madness with great relish. However, it manages not to descend into meaninglessness and pedantry like so many comedy star vehicles tend to, since it boasts an excellent script by veteran playwright Christopher Frayn. It is all delicately paced, and nicely played out with typical British charm by a host of comedy regulars including Alison Steadman and Geoffrey Palmer.The movie basically follows a day in the life of the time-obsessed Stimpson as he makes his way to a conference in Norwich, where he is to make a speech as the first ever grammar-school head to be made president of the headmasters association. Beginning with missing his train, we follow Stimpson in his ill-fated attempts to get to Norwich on time. Plenty of opportunity for mayhem and chaos along the way, as well as some laughs stemming from Cleese's irredeemably pedantic character. Nothing deep, but lots of fun."
John Cleese at his finest!
A. Bender | Pennsylvania, USA | 10/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Cleese is the very precise, orderly and punctual headmaster of a common British public school. As such, he rules the school, students and faculty as strictly as possible. Due to his managerial excellence, he wins an award for best Headmaster of the year (a great honor coming from a public school,) and this is where the fun begins! In order to receive the award, he has to attend the award ceremony off in the middle of the English countryside, and getting there is all the fun! (Anything that can go wrong...)
This is, hands down, one of the best movies ever made, and I've been waiting years for it to come out on DVD! It's physically impossible not to incredibly enjoy Clockwise, especially if you're a Fawlty Towers fan. I remembered nearly every single scene in this film from when I saw it as a teenager over 15 years ago! It's that funny. You simply MUST see this movie! (And DVD is the best way to do it.) Enjoy!"
CLASSIC BRITISH COMEDY
firstname.lastname@example.org | BOLTON, LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND | 06/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Cleesec comes close to re-creating his famous role as Basil fawlty in Fawlty Towers, and is hilarious in doing so. He plays a headmaster who is always firmly punctual but when he is due at a conference in Norwich and he boards the wrong train he is plunged to a cross-country adventure with a school girl and a former girlfriend hot on their pursuit. A simple plot unravels a series of sketches that are fine blends of comedy, complimented by fine performances from the cast. John Cleese is manic from the word go but he never fails to amuse. The razor sharp scripts are witty and perfectly timed. Other familiar faces in the cast include alison Steadman, Penelope Wilton and Joan Hickson. A fine British comedy classic."
Tony Hughes | Cincinnati, Ohio United States | 10/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It doesn't have much in the way of penetrating insights into religion, but this frantic Frayn/Cleese race across East Anglia is as good a transposition of farce to the silver screen as we've ever seen. The pace is kept just taut enough throughout (something A Fish Called Wanda never managed) and the roll-call of British character actors is dished out liberally without ever turning into an "ooh look, it's him off of Kinvig!" distraction, most notably Geoffrey Palmer, Penelope Wilton and Stephen Moore."