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Trapped In Paradise Review

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★★★★★

This must have seemed a wheeze at the conceptual stage: reinvent the Three Stooges for the 90s, jazz it up as an Xmas package and throw in a moral message. What George Gallo and crew failed to conceive were some genuinely funny gags.

Ex-con brothers Lovitz and Carvey, both dumber than a lobotomised Jim Carrey, cajole their elder bro (Cage) into doing a sure-thing bank job in the peaceable town of Paradise. Off they trot, on Christmas Eve, to lighten the snowbound community of its vault full of dosh. The team, affecting differing character disorders - Cage is short of temper, Lovitz is short of morals, Carvey is short of everything - bungle their way to the cash, only to discover the townspeople are a lovely and adorable bunch who don't really deserve to have their charity money pilfered. The goons spend the rest of the movie screwing up the getaway and, in a fit of remorse, trying to give the money back.

There are moments of promise, with the inconceivably muddled robbery, a high speed chase in Santa's sleigh and Carvey's ludicrous Christmas jumper. These, though, are ripples in an ocean of overacted slapstick, put together with little attention to detail. Cage does his put-upon beefcake routine without any conviction, while Lovitz and Carvey seem to be playing in different movies.

It all gets hopelessly farcical by the close with hoodlums, cops, horses, vicars, one feisty mother, a charming bank manager, a pile of loot and a three-legged dog figuring to cover the whole threadbare notion with total chaos.

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