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'The Guard': Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week

August 31, 2011 |  4:37 pm

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in The Guard, Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week

Comedies that actually make you laugh are always the rarest of commodities, especially in the summer, so it is satisfying to see “The Guard” not only surviving but expanding into nearly 20 theaters across Southern California. An impish and impudent black comedy that knows where it’s going and how to get there, it gives veteran actor Brendan Gleeson one of the tastiest roles of his career and introduces gifted writer-director John Michael McDonagh.

If that name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the older brother of “In Bruges” filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh. Fans of the younger man will recognize a similar sensibility, but “The Guard” has a brightness and high-energy feeling all its own. When the director says he envisioned something “in the classic tradition of John Ford and Preston Sturges,” he is not kidding.

McDonagh has taken a “Beverly Hills Cop” framing device, with Gleeson’s unconventional Irish cop giving conniptions to a cool FBI agent played by Don Cheadle, and added a great sense of character and place as well as drop-dead sarcastic dialogue that is wickedly comic and unapologetically profane.

Don’t let it pass you by.


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-– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard." Credit: Jonathan Hession / Sony Pictures Classics

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