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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Tap Your Troubles Away
by Betty Jo Tucker

Finally, a movie extolling the joys of tap dancing! Okay, The Search for John Gissing isnít totally about tap dancing, but thereís enough included to win over an old hoofer like me. Written, directed and starring Mike Binder, this hilarious comedy depicts what happens when a British business executive tries to sabotage an American whoís been hired to take over his job.

Matthew Barnes (Binder) and his wife Linda (Janeane Garofalo) arrive in London with great expectations. Matthew is supposed to handle a big acquisitions deal for his new company, and Linda seems happy for him, even though sheís had to give up her dream of being a tap dancer. Sadly, it doesnít take long for the coupleís happiness bubble to burst.  First, John Gissing (Alan Rickman), the man who promised to meet them at the airport, doesnít show up. In fact, everything Gissing has promised fails to materialize or ends up in chaos, so Matthew and Linda become like the exhausted, bickering characters in The Out-of-Towners. Theyíre painful -- but very funny -- to watch.

Of course, Gissing is the culprit here, and Rickman (Love Actually) puts an amusing, sarcastic spin to this unsympathetic role. Heís simply terrific, as usual. Itís not long before Matthew resorts to some dirty tricks of his own in order to bring down his nemesis. What could possible unite these two out-of-control rivals? You guessed it! Finding out they need each other when facing a common enemy.

Garofalo (Big Trouble), the stand-up comic Iíd most like to meet in person, turns in a wonderful performance as a wife reluctantly trying to be helpful to her husband under outrageous circumstances. Although I canít imagine her as a tap dancer, she warmed my heart with a look of wonder when her character discovers shelves filled with different types of tap shoes. I know how I would react -- and Garofalo nails it.

Portraying the harried Matthew, Binder (The Upside of Anger, Reign Over Me) succeeds in gaining sympathy for the frustrated manís plight. And, as the director, he moves The Search for John Gissing along with a welcome spirited pace while working from his own clever script. Binder is a multi-talented filmmaker indeed.

Supporting cast members add to the fun. Allan Corduner (Topsy-Turvy) boasts a comical French accent as the pompous chairman of the board; Juliet Stevenson (Nicholas Nickleby) projects an on-the-surface prim attitude as one of the company executives; Owen Teale  (King Arthur) evokes considerable laughter when he reveals his characterís lascivious nature; and Sonya Walger (Caffeine) almost steals the show as a nun whose holiness comes under question in one of the film's funniest sequences.          

As so often happens, the only way to bring all these people together is through tap dancing. Okay, Iím exaggerating a little about that. But thanks to Binder and his wonderful actors, the filmís ending reminded me of all those joyful hours Iíve spent doing the time step and shuffling off to Buffalo.  

(Released by Sunlight Productions; not rated by MPAA -- but the movie includes brief nudity, sexuality and language. For more information, please go to the films official site by clicking here.)           

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