"High Heels and Low Lifes" is a broad and stale British crime comedy that wastes the considerable talent and presence of Minnie Driver. It's essentially a numbskull business in which everyone suffers from varying degrees of stupidity, and it depends on violence for much of its humor, which these days is less amusing than ever.
The "high heels" are Driver's Shannon, a conscientious nurse at a London hospital, and Mary McCormack's Frances, an actress so unsuccessful that she can't even get a call back on a job voicing an animated alien tomato. They overhear the "low lifes" as they are staging a bank robbery, thanks to a radio scanner belonging to Shannon's soon-to-be dumped live-in boyfriend (Darren Boyd), who's obsessed with tuning into mobile phone conversations.
When Shannon drags Frances off to the local police station to report the robbery in progress and their words fall on deaf ears, Frances decides that they should blackmail the bad guys for a slice of their take, which proves to be 10 million. Shannon is appalled, but Frances changes her mind by suggesting that a large portion of the loot go to improvements at the hospital where Shannon works. And when a tramp is nearly fatally shot as the crooks are making their drop for Frances and Shannon in a park garbage can and the bills turn out to be scrap paper, Shannon turns into a regular Charles Bronson-like avenger. Driver is more persuasive than Kim Fuller's contrived script and Mel Smith's crass direction deserves. Unfortunately, a charmless McCormack seems all too perfect a fit. British stalwart Michael Gambon not surprisingly manages some style and humor as the chief gangster whose country estate features a Roman-style bath worthy of Nero. There are, however, no highs in "High Heels and Low Lifes." Just lows.
MPAA-rated: R, for language, some violence and nudity. Times guidelines: The body count is considerable.
"High Heels and Low Lifes"
Minnie Driver: Shannon
Mary McCormack: Frances
Kevin McNally: Mason
Michael Gambon: Kerrigan
A Buena Vista Pictures release of a Touchstone Pictures presentation. Director Mel Smith. Producers Uri Fruchtmann, Barnaby Thompson. Screenplay Kim Fuller; based on a story by Fuller & Georgia Pritchett. Cinematographer Steven Chivers. Editor Christopher Blunden. Music Charlie Mole. Costumes Jany Temime. Production designer Michael Pickwoad. Art director Roger A. Bowles. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
In general release.