Monkey Bellhop Movie Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Alright, let’s get the ground rules straight because this is my first movie review and everyblogbody and their brother is in the movie reviewing business these days and I don’t want to disappoint anybody that has high expectations — so if you’re looking for Film Comment, Film Quarterly kinds of analysis that require, you know, knowledge, just forget it.

Wait, hold on a sec.   I might be selling myself short here.  I mean how that critic Jeffrey Lyons makes a living is beyond me and he’s been at it for years.

The Patron Saint of Positive Plugs for Pitiful Pictures

You know when you  go to the movies and sit through a real stinker and walk out with your fists clenched because there isn’t a thing you can do to get back the $23 you and your companion spent on tickets, not to mention the $54 you dropped for two small Cokes and a box of Milk Duds that when you first open it up it still has enough space in it to break a horse in, and if things weren’t bad enough you have to walk out of the theater and right past the poster in the lobby and find yourself stopping dead in your tracks when you notice there’s just one, lonely quote from some critic right on top, calling the hour and fifty minute train wreck you just endured “An instant classic right up there with Laurence of Arabia”?  That’s Jeffrey Lyons. 

At the very least, I should be able to do this better than him.  So without further ado, I present:

The Monkey Bellhop Review of

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Gary Oldman as George Smiley

So my wife and I were flipping around trying to find something to watch and we were scrolling through the movies available on HBO and decided to watch “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” because even though it was rated R, it didn’t seem like the kind of movie that would have too much cussing, killing and lovemaking in it since the main character, George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, was pretty old and wore a sweater vest that hasn’t been fashionable since Perry Como was in t-ball.

Quite frankly, it’s hard to relax and watch R movies in our house because our kids are always wandering in and out and plopping themselves down at inappropriate moments  and one of us has to lunge for the remote to hit ‘pause’ or change the channel altogether and the whole disruptive process gets me so upset, I usually end up saying something that’s much worse than what I was trying to protect my kids from hearing in the film in the first place.

Spoiler alert.   I was completely lost before the opening credits started.  This is one of the most confusing movies I have ever seen and even after a full 24 hours to mull this over and try to replay scenes in my mind, I don’t have the slightest idea what happened.  In my defense, John Hurt is in this movie and he’s responsible for setting up the story in the very beginning but he and Keith Richards have either the same vocal coach or the same respiratory infection because I’ve never been able to understand a word either one of them said and it’s not from a lack of trying either.

So this much I know.  There’s a mole within the British Intelligence Service and George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman is supposed to find out who it is and this isn’t really all that hard to do if you look at the other actors in the movie and figure out which one has the most box office cachet, but for some reason, it took Mr. Smiley the better part of 2 1/2 hours to do it.  There were so many characters coming and going in this movie that I’m not even sure the director could keep track and I’m almost positive there was one scene where a couple of them were in it and they probably weren’t supposed to.  You could see them looking kind of sheepishly at one another while John Hurt and Gary Oldman were deep in conversation and I could just sense they were wondering whether they should tell the director or just try to crawl out of the scene beneath the camera or let the lady in charge of continuity get in trouble for it.

One interesting milestone  about this film.  “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is the first feature film to have more characters in it than the number of people in the United States and Canada combined who saw the film in theaters.

Roughly half way through the film, I had to take my one daughter to her friend’s home to study and the other to the supermarket because she was craving dessert.  I came back a half hour later and asked my wife what I missed and she told me she didn’t know and wasn’t being flip.  I sat down again and we both attempted to focus on the trench coat worn by George Smiley to determine whether the scene he was wearing it in was in the present or the past but later on after we had brushed our teeth and were in bed waiting for the melatonin to kick in,  we both realized he wore that same rain coat for something like 24 years because it was featured in all the scenes.

The acting was terrific, I just didn’t know what some of them were saying or what was going on but that could be because I’m getting older and no film reviewer worth his or her salt, should judge a film based upon their own physical limitations.  That said,  I have to give “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” a C-.   Nobody would ever have a raincoat for 24 years, not even George Smiley.  Although he did have these eyeglasses or “spectacles”, I believe the British call them,  that looked like they were from the 70’s and he wore those right through the picture both in the present and the past and in those scenes where we didn’t know when they were taking place.   Could have even been the future.   Let’s go with C+ since this is my first review and plus, if I ever run into Mr. Oldman, I don’t want him to get mad at me.  I read somewhere he has a screw loose.

© 2013 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett

4 thoughts on “Monkey Bellhop Movie Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

  1. Great review. We couldn’t get through this movie. 30-40 minutes in we gave up. I wonder about all the awards. All I could think was “Wasn’t one of these guys in Dracula a while back?” and “Is there supposed to be a plot?”

    1. It was more like an SAT exercise than a movie, everytime I saw something or heard a line that might have some bearing on the plot, I wanted to raise my hand and ask, “Excuse me. Will this be on the test?”

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