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The Concierge Review

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A concierge is left with the enviable task of looking after a sleazy businessman's attractive girlfriend with the promise of enough money to help open his own hotel. But against his will, the concierge begins to fall in love with her, risking his life's goal for a chance with love.

★★★★★

Any film that makes you hate its main character before the credits have finished rolling is in trouble, and this opens by setting up concierge Doug Ireland (Fox), who works in New York's Bradbury Hotel, as a professional smarm. He specialises in having the right theatre tickets, supplying trivial luxuries to trivial people and lending rooms to his friends so they can have sex with leggy models. But Fox refuses to play a real heel, so his concierge never actually deals drugs or pimps for hookers, lending the confection the bowdlerised feel of a film edited for in-flight showing.

Known in the US as For Love Or Money, this has the seed of an idea in its hero's status as a universal fixer in the hotel trade, but falls down when it tries to be an upscale retread of The Apartment for the 90s, with the cynicism that makes the Billy Wilder film replaced with feel-good idiocy. Doug's dream is to open his own hotel but he needs a cash injection from slimey businessman Christian (Anthony Higgins). To get the funds, he has to look after Christian's girlfriend (Anwar), who truly believes the swine is about to divorce his wife. As is obvious from the outset, Fox realises he cares more for the girl than for any dodgy deal and makes a dash to prevent her going off with the dastard.

This is a seamless, old-fashioned script with character arcs and three acts, but it's also a faceless bit of professionalism, occasionally sparked by incidental bits of business, which coasts too heavily on Fox's boyish charm. Some of the one-joke bit players come off reasonably well, especially the senile bellhop who never takes more than one trip up to a room, but, in the end, this only makes the leads seem more inadequate.

In between his successful Back II the Futures and his stint on Spin City, Fox's career was in freefall with this film proving the point. Although he is as charismatic as ever, it's not enough for the viewer to actually sympathise with Fox's character, or even lift this poor comedy enough to get a laugh.

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