Case Number 15862: Small Claims Court


Image Entertainment // 2007 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Kristin Munson (Retired) // March 6th, 2009

The Charge

"You're making something very simple into something very complicated."
-- Sugarhouse character, in a gross understatement

The Case

Guy Ritchie, what have you wrought?

Ever since Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels came out, it seems every Brit with some backing money and a script full of swears has tried to make it big with their own Looney Tunes gangster flick. Sugarhouse is just the latest in the line. The movie can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a crime drama, so wacky characters and gratuitous violence are dropped in at random, and every chase scene is tailor made for the Benny Hill theme.

A businessman (Stephen Mackintosh, The Buddha of Suburbia) wants to buy a gun from a crack head (Ashley Walters, Bullet Boy), only the gun actually belongs to a low-level gangster (Andy Serkis, The Prestige), and he's just discovered it's missing. In a typical Ritchie clone, this would be the jumping off for all sorts of convoluted twists and turns, but Sugarhouse is a kind of never-never land for logic, where all the ideas rejected from other screenplays have banded together to fight pirates and Indians. The rest of plot unfolds in twists that will only be shocking if you've been hitting the pipe yourself, and they make about as much sense.

The junkie and the yuppie have not one, not two, but three different chances to run for it and instead they hang around chatting about their personal issues. What's their plan for getting the crack head enough money to escape before the angry gangster gets back? Why, selling the gun back to the angry gangster, making him armed, more angry, and completely ignoring the "before he gets back" part of the equation.

The problem is the characters are so non-dimensional that there's no such thing as "out of character" so these moronic ideas and sudden attitude changes come from beyond the ball park, never mind left field, and the actors run amok. Walters plays his part as a shuffling, mushmouthed, minstrel show creation before trying to go all Shakespearian in the second half, and Serkis thrashes and snarls like he's still doing the motion capture for King Kong. The only really entertaining characters are the trio of drugged-up numbskulls the gangster sics on the pair, and they have the good sense to jump flick after 15 minutes.

I was sent a screener version of Sugarhouse, which I appreciate because if I had to listen to anyone defend anything about this movie on either the Set Tour or the Cast Interviews I might just lose what little regard I have left for humanity. Not content with that, Image decided to further discourage piracy by turning the move black and white and slapping a written disclaimer on the screen at the most intense moments. It's like someone walking in on you when you're watching porn, flicking the house lights, and screaming "LA LA LA," only it's the DVD doing the cock-blocking. The retail copy should be a full-color anamorphic transfer with a 2.0 mix, and no subtitles to help decipher the accents of the scenery chewing offenders.

With all its annoying and repetitive flaws, Sugarhouse isn't so much a movie as a drinking game waiting to happen. If you're in AA, give it a pass, but if you're having a party, grab a bottle of vodka and let battle commence.

Review content copyright © 2009 Kristin Munson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 58

Perp Profile
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Interviews
* Set Tour
* Trailer

* IMDb