Despite our best efforts to remain upbeat and optimistic, there hasn’t been a great deal to laugh about during lockdown. But that is all about to change because Lily Collins and Simon Pegg have generously teamed up to make this year’s daftest thriller. And it is a CORKER.
Lauren Monroe (Lily Collins) is a principled and driven District Attorney with one agenda; to take down corporate corruption one dodgy broker at a time. After refusing to have her head turned by the lure of her wealthy family’s political ambitions she disappointed her judgemental father by marrying a man who valued decency above power.
Lauren believes she has time to win her father’s approval and is basking in the glow of another potential courtroom triumph when a baying mob of reporters break the news that the resolute Monroe patriarch is dead. In shock, she returns to the family’s summer compound to grieve with her family and wait for the will to be read.
Another shock lies in store when Archer’s final wishes are revealed. Lauren’s glad-handing brother Will (Chace Crawford) has inherited the majority of their father’s fortune, her mother gained some corporate power and poor Lauren – who only ever wanted her daddy to tell her he was proud – gets a paltry $1 million and…Simon Pegg.
Yes, you read that right, *dramatic voice* Archer Monroe had been harbouring a ghastly secret; he took a man hostage and kept him as his prisoner for 30 LONG YEARS.
John Doe/Morgan Warner (Simon Pegg) looms out of the darkness of his concrete oubliette at a horrified Lauren when the silly sausage fails to follow the rules of The Trap Door (if you are of the right vintage we defy you not to have the song stuck in your head for the rest of the film). He wants to share a story he has waited a very long time to tell…
You can’t help but feel bad for Simon Pegg, he has spoken of his frustration at not being allowed to break free from his comedy constraints before and evidently he did enormous amounts of physical preparation for this role. Sadly none of that prep prevents him from looking and sounding borderline farcical for the entire runtime of Inheritance.
Inheritance is at best the kind of mildly entertaining tosh you would expect from a midweek mid-afternoon movie on Channel 5. And without the prestige-boosting cast, it probably could have filled that pigeonhole nicely. Director Vaughn Stein set his sights higher, however, assembling talented actors like Connie Nielsen and Pegg to flounder melodramatically while Marlon Espino’s score plinks and plonks in the background.
Lily Collins tries her best to channel what appears to be Elysium/Inside Man Jodie Foster but this is not the time or place to aspire to steeliness nor, frankly, to wear heels. She is set adrift in a sea of nonsense and she doesn’t have the force of will to tread water. Her Lauren is reactive, gullible and ultimately not credible; Matthew Kennedy’s story is preposterous but this performance does nothing to elevate it.
And poor, poor, Mr Pegg. His first big reveal is unintentionally hilarious; for a split second, he is Mel Smith’s Princess Bride Albino and that impression sticks until the next Pegg wig transforms him into Hastur from Good Omens. It is probably superficial to dwell on looks (he is Julian Assange by the end) but Inheritance truly has no other hook, his Diet Hannibal Lector schtick and mind games fall belly flop flat.
With soapy editing, a ropey plot and a tiresome ‘twist’ as tangled as crossed fingers, Inheritance manages to fail on almost every level – bar one – it really is (unintentionally) a jolly funny film.