Blue Iguana: Solid Acting Doesn’t Save Comedy

Sam Rockwell in Blue Iguana. Courtesy of Screen Media Films.

Blue Iguana mixes up the genres while offering an 80s vibe in both visuals and soundtrack.  Unfortunately, it isn’t enough.

Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and Paul (Ben Schwartz) spend their days working at a New York diner because a condition of their parole is that they maintain employment.    The two are polar opposites but they are able to mesh well because of their personalities.  In spite of it all, they are perfectly okay with working at a diner even if Paul is movie-obsessed.

Leave it to Katherine Rookwood (Phoebe Fox), a lawyer from England, to spike up their life so to speak.  This is where the film gets predictable–with a bit of sucking up on Katherine’s part–but that goes without saying.  Katherine needs the pair to intercept a package for her client.  I wish I could say things went perfectly expected but this is a comedy so naturally, nothing goes as planned and the trio come face-to-face with Arkady (Peter Polycarpou).  Arkady generally relies on a thug of a psychopath, Deacon Bradshaw (Peter Ferdinando), and his people.

To make it all okay, the trio must find a way to get their hands on the Blue Iguana.  It’s a gem that formerly belonged to a princess (Frances Barber).  Without the gem, the universe might implode.  Well, maybe not but it won’t go well for our heroes if you want to call them that.  Eddie, Paul, and their team of bandits have to avoid Arkady and Deacon in order to return the gem to the princess.

Eddie and Paul are the type of people who have no business being on this job.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nadda.  Whatever happened that caused them to end up on parole and working in a diner was likely for the best.  Instead, they do this job in London and if being a buddy comedy weren’t enough, there’s a romance blooming between Eddie and Katherine.  Major props to writer/director Hadi Hajaig for writing the film in a way that doesn’t show this angle off too much.  I mean, they don’even kiss until the film’s final minutes!  Spoiler alert:  this was bound to happen.  When your first three leads include two men and one woman, something is going to happen.

Sam Rockwell is going to give it his all no matter how good or bad the film is.  He even nails a Cockney accent while eating a sandwich!  Unfortunately, his performance alone isn’t enough to save the film.  Neither does Phoebe Fox but the actress has so much potential.  She was one of the officers who controlled the drone in Eye in the Sky.  Her performance left me wanting to see more of her work in the future.  Both are incredibly talented actors and improve the film on the virtue of their performances but only to an extent.

I love that the romantic comedy angle of the film isn’t something that’s really forced on viewers.  Yeah, it’s inevitable in a sense but at the same time, the film stresses the buddy comedy aspect more than anything else.  When the ending finally appears on screen, it’s both expected and not expected.  But the camera framing is awesome nonetheless!

Singing John Denver songs in films seem to have finally hit it’s peak so the industry has to move onto another artist.  In this case, actor Sam Rockwell who starts to sing Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” before blood and guts spill everywhere.  It’s funny in its own way.  This is honestly the best part of the film so it’s worth putting up with everything else.

Despite the best efforts of the acting performances, writer-director Hadi Hajaig’s Blue Iguana doesn’t quite come off with the steal.

CAST:  Sam Rockwell, Phoebe Fox, Ben Schwartz, Peter Ferdindando, Peter Polycarpou, Simon Callow, with Frances Barber and Amanda Donohoe

Screen Media Films opens Blue Iguana in select theaters on August 24, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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