The latest entry in the heartfelt gentle British comedy does nothing different than most of its numerous predecessors. Greenfingers is working off a formula designed to make people go "awww, how sweet," and for the most part succeeds. However, since this is the nth time people have seen this same film, it's not much of an accomplishment to be able to pull one's heartstrings. Based on a true story (aren't they all?), Greenfingers details the lives of some minimum security British prisoners, and how their lives change once they begin gardening. Gardening? Prisoners? Awww, how sweet. All of the necessary elements are present, including lovable people, crazy shenanigans, setbacks, and death.

The person at the center of the gardening scheme is Colin Briggs (Clive Owen, Croupier, Bent). He sort of falls into gardening with the help of his roommate Fergus Wilks (David Kelly, Waking Ned Devine, The Matchmaker). Briggs is at the point where he is may be close to parole, so he does not want to screw up. He also realizes that once he gains his freedom, his prison record will be a black mark upon him. The gardening goes so well that the warden invites author/gardener Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren, The Pledge, Teaching Mrs. Tingle) to look at the garden, and she loves it. She wants to sponsor them at the upscale gardening competition at Hampton Court. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and a large number of setbacks appear in the Briggs' efforts to cultivate his garden.

Like the rest of the film, the performances are nice but not spectacular. All of the actors look like they are just going through the motions. Owen's suave and cool demeanor does not quite fit the Briggs character, but he still manages to pull it off. Briggs' epiphany that he is a gardener and can make something of his life is never as surprising as the filmmakers would like. Kelly is mostly a non-entity, especially after his wonderful role in Waking Ned Devine, and Mirren's portrayal is somewhat one-dimensional.

Ultimately, these genre movies contain some tragedy that brings forth a change in the characters and eventually leads to the resolution of the film. Greenfingers, based on Paula Dietz's New York Times article "Free to Grow Bluebells in England" and written/directed by Joel Hershman (Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me) has nothing inherently offensive in any way in the script. There are only sporadic bursts of comedy. This is a heartwarmer, and little else. The issue is that Hershman does everything so conventionally that nothing is a surprise, and many of the potentially tear-jerking moments are not that emotional. There are no efforts to hide these scenes, making them seem blatant in a way. If Hershman had done something new or different, Greenfingers would stand out instead of looking like many other, better films.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for language and some sexuality.

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