For the latest placeholder until “The Joker” comes out we have “Downton Abbey,” a continuation of the popular PBS television series. It is a classic British type of movie, where you’re not sure a joke has been made until someone makes funny eyebrows and everyone is bustling about on their way to an afternoon tea or something.
The premise seems to be that the king and queen of England are coming to visit Downton Abbey, where between 15 and 50 people (everyone is identical so it’s impossible to get an exact count) with names like “Lord Barronpence of Quigleyshire” live, work and make fun of Irish people. After the royal couple has their dinner the movie just kind of ends.
However, despite everyone’s visual similarities there is a clear divide between the fancy people, who sit around chatting about nonsense and then make biting remarks to their close relatives, and the servants, who do not even question that they are meant to be on beck and call at all times, and who also spend a lot of time in a room full of silver dinnerware that look like hookahs.
Now, let us proceed to some standout moments from this lovely little film:
A very handsome plumber flirts with the cook’s assistant, who is apparently engaged to one of the waiters or something? The waiter also may or may not be a twin to the butler, who at one point gets arrested for going to an underground gay bar and dancing a waltz with a nice mustachioed fellow before being rescued from prison by another character of some sort.
Some guy in a fedora and an overcoat tries to assassinate the king, but is stopped by another guy in a fedora and an overcoat before he can get a shot off. This all came about quite suddenly, as I thought the whole time that the assassin man was part of the group and did not understand why he wasn’t saying hello to his friends.
There is precisely one French character, a chef, who’s a giant jerk until the maid drugs him and he sleeps through the big fancy royal dinner.
All of the people in this movie either look like they belong in Great Expectations or The Great Gatsby and they generally have either very fun or very boring outfits.
Because historical royal British language and behavior is so dictated by tradition, the members of the family that lives at Downton Abbey are forced to communicate their emotions primarily through facial expressions, while the servants are bound by none of this and can speak their minds freely. Of course, if they dare speak in front of the queen they are shamed beyond belief, but one takes what one gets here.
“Downton Abbey” is a perfectly serviceable film that has plenty of fun accents, Maggie Smith, a variety of headwear and probably makes much more sense to people who have watched the show before.
But even for those who can’t follow along it does a lovely job showcasing the natural endgame of an imperialist monarchy, where the wealthy have no choice in how their life is to go and are so out of touch with the world they are leading that to them, a national strike just means their handmaids are slightly verklempt, and where the household staff’s highest ambitions in life is to be of service to an even fancier group of people than usual.
Rating: 7 funny hats out of 10, because I have to imagine that if I had even the faintest idea about what was going on I would have been delighted.