I'd like to think Mercury Senior Editor Erik Henriksen asked me to review Frank because he knows I'm a fan of author and journalist Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, Them: Adventures with Extremists), as well as a shameless Anglophile with a decent knowledge of Britpop history—thus making me uniquely qualified to contextually analyze this film. But who am I kidding? It's because my goddamn name is Frank.
It stars Pierce Brosnan doing sex stuff and spy stuff (an espionage a trois, say) in a number of picturesque European locales (sure, why not?), and it's impossible to overstate how much better an R-rated version of Bourne or James Bond is: These movies are utilitarian, scratching an itch more than creating art. It's already a kind of porn. And who wants to watch sanitized porn?
The latest of [Elmore Leonard's] books to have been adapted, director Daniel Schechter's rendition of Leonard's 1978 novel The Switch is faithful but lacking in spark. It's not terrible, but it doesn't compare in verve to better Leonard film interpretations like Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. "You get paid for it. That's the main thing," Leonard told the Detroit Free Press in 2010 of having his books turned into films (or TV shows, like Justified).
Coogan and Brydon both seem more reflective this time around—perhaps due to the astonishingly gorgeous Italian backdrop, traveling from the Italian Riviera, through Tuscany to Rome and the Amalfi Coast before ending in Capri. The actors' back-and-forth is still as funny as it gets, but it's not as frantic or angry as before; they're both feeling the dulling effects of age, even as they imagine themselves the modern-day equivalents of Byron and Shelley.
It's possible [writer/director/star Cherien] Dabis simply overplayed her intention to portray an un-sensationalized Middle East, as the film's focus is unmistakably on her character's conventional wedding-jitter drama. But outside of some easily replaceable flourishes, it's a story that could be airlifted into Connecticut or Paris—which is to say it's nothing special.