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Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

4.8 18
Director: Oliver Parker

Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor


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A superb cast brings Oscar Wilde's classic comedy of manners to life in the third big-screen adaptation of this hilarious look at fun, games, and dubious ethics among the British upper crust. Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) is a slightly shady, but charming gentlemen from a wealthy family who has a bad habit of throwing his money away. Algernon has a close friend


A superb cast brings Oscar Wilde's classic comedy of manners to life in the third big-screen adaptation of this hilarious look at fun, games, and dubious ethics among the British upper crust. Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) is a slightly shady, but charming gentlemen from a wealthy family who has a bad habit of throwing his money away. Algernon has a close friend named Jack Worthing (Colin Firth), a self-made man who acts as a ward to his cousin, a beautiful young lady named Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). Algernon has created an alter ego to help him get out of tight spots brought on by his financial improprieties, and when he learns that Jack has created a false identity of his own -- Earnest, a brother living in London whose exploits have earned him no small amount of notoriety -- Algernon arrives for a weekend visit in the country posing as the mysterious Earnest. Having heard of Earnest's misadventures many times over the years, Cecily had developed something of an infatuation with the lovable rogue, and Algernon's impersonation of him works no small degree of magic on Cecily. Meanwhile, Algernon's cousin, Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor), arrives for the weekend, and is startled to discover Jack is also there -- except that she knows him as bad-boy Earnest. So just who is in love with who? How will Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench) handle the matter of her daughter Gwendolyn's suitors? And what's the truth about Jack's mysterious heritage? The Importance of Being Earnest was director Oliver Parker's second film adaptation of an Oscar Wilde comedy; he previously helmed An Ideal Husband, which also starred Rupert Everett. Everett and Colin Firth also co-starred in the 1984 drama Another Country.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Oscar Wilde's hilarious Victorian-era play gets deluxe treatment in this delightfully saucy screen adaptation written and directed by Oliver Parker (An Ideal Husband). It's a mistaken-identity farce nonpareil, deliciously naughty in its implications and shrewdly observant with respect to British manners, mores, and class distinctions. The plot is airy and, to a degree, irrelevant. The dialogue, however, is something else -- witty, in some cases caustic, but uniquely memorable. To some viewers Importance will seem vaguely familiar, but only because Wilde's original has inspired countless imitations since its 1895 theatrical debut. The story goes something like this: Dashing gentleman Jack Worthing (played by Colin Firth) goes by his real name in the countryside but is known in the city as "Ernest" -- a convenient identity adopted to facilitate extrication from failed romances. The idea makes perfect sense to his friend Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett), who takes the name for himself while visiting the country. As Ernest, he falls into love with and proposes to Jack's young ward, Cecily Cardew (Reese Witherspoon), right around the time Jack's alter ego becomes engaged to Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor), daughter of the formidable -- and suspicious -- Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench). You can imagine the confusion that ensues when the two young ladies start talking about their suitors. Importance is nothing if not perfectly cast: Everett plays Algernon with the insouciance that has become his trademark, Firth plays second fiddle most engagingly (as always), and the surprisingly effective American-born Witherspoon delivers her lines with a convincing British accent. Dench shines as the class-conscious dowager, and Edward Fox has a scene-stealing turn as a wry butler. Sumptuously appointed, incisively directed, and breezily acted, The Importance of Being Earnest is strongly recommended for those who appreciate sophisticated comedy -- which, sadly, is otherwise so rare in today's movies. The DVD features a commentary by Parker and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
All Movie Guide
The weightlessness of The Importance of Being Earnest makes it clear why Miramax released this trifle as counterprogramming to Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones rather than during its traditional Oscar season. A mistaken-identity farce to rival Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde's play has always been considered a classic comedy of manners/errors. But Oliver Parker's film suffers a bit by following the recent deluge of British period comedies, among them The Ideal Husband (also starring Rupert Everett and directed by Parker) and Emma. Everyone is having a jolly good time, and the production is as handsome as one could want, but there's no fresh sense of rediscovery, which might have accompanied the film had it come out a couple years earlier. It's so trivial that there's also no sense of peril about the fragile relations falling short of a happy conclusion, nor the whole enterprise unraveling under the stern displeasure of Judi Dench's imperious Lady Bracknell. Fortunately, no one's really expecting a near tragedy, especially with that giddy soundtrack and the ready grins of all the performers. While most of the cast is accustomed to this milieu, Reese Witherspoon acquits herself surprisingly well in the new form, her natural bird-like prissiness used to good effect and her accent passable. Overall, Parker has an exquisitely literate, humorous, and watchable film on his hands, and the fact that it doesn't stick long after leaving the theater is kind of irrelevant.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
The Importance of Being Earnest, so thick with wit it plays like a reading from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
Boston Globe
Sharp performances and a literate script that never has to resort to cheap humor to be sidesplittingly funny.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Miramax Lionsgate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; ; Audio Commentary With Director Oliver Parker; The Making Of The Importance Of Being Earnest; Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rupert Everett Algy
Colin Firth Jack
Frances O'Connor Gwendolyn Fairfax
Reese Witherspoon Cecily Cardew
Judi Dench Lady Bracknell
Edward Fox Lane
Charles Kay Gribsby
Anna Massey Miss Prism
Tom Wilkinson Dr. Chasuble

Technical Credits
Oliver Parker Director,Screenwriter
Oscar Wilde Author
Paul Ghiradani Art Director
Richard Hewitt Asst. Director
Celestia Fox Casting
Quinney Sachs Choreography
Tony Pierce-Roberts Cinematographer
David Brown Co-producer
Maurizio Millenotti Costumes/Costume Designer
Guy Bensley Editor
Uri Fruchtman Executive Producer
Peter King Makeup
Barnaby Thompson Producer
Luciana Arrighi Production Designer
Charlie Mole Score Composer
Ian Whittaker Set Decoration/Design
John Midgley Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Importance of Being Earnest
1. Opening Credits: Uncertainty [4:17]
2. Engaging Names [4:17]
3. Mixed Metaphors [4:19]
4. A Regrettable Inquisition [10:01]
5. To The Country [2:58]
6. Deceiving Death [6:44]
7. Conflicts With Ernest [6:48]
8. Romantic Intentions [7:32]
9. Disputing Claims [6:56]
10. Self-Sacrifice [6:30]
11. Bargaining For Brides [8:12]
12. Brothers After All [4:50]
13. End Credits [:26]


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The Importance of Being Earnest 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
MarthaJones More than 1 year ago
The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy about two friends using the same pseudonym ("Ernest") for their on-the-sly activities. Of course, things don't go quite as planned, and the result is comical. This film, based on a classic play, is hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing. The characters are enjoyable. The entire cast gave a great performance; I especially enjoyed the performances of Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. I would highly recommend this film to anyone; it's very funny and overall a good, pleasant story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A hilarious film based off the book by Oscar Wilde. I do not know how close to the book it was, since I have not read the book, but I can honestly say it is one of the best romantic comedies I have seen thus far. It's hard to sum up the plot, but I shall do my best. There is a man who lives in the country by the name of John or "Jack", but in the city he is known as a man named Earnest. He meets a man in the city named Algernon who has a money problem. Algernon learns of Jack's fake identity and decides to show up at Jack's country home as the long lost brother named Earnest to settle his money problems. Jack is in love with a city girl, and she thinks hes name is Earnest, and Algernon falls for Jack's ward Cecily, and of-course the ward thinks Algernon is Earnest. Of-course both women adore the name Earnest. Things get messy when the men's separate lovers discover their real identities. Will Jack and Algernon be able to win back the love of their women, even though their names are not Earnest? Well you'll have to watch the movie to find out, and I highly recommend you do. For I could not stop laughing at the hilarity of this film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Important of Being Earnest Can a con come back at you? Just one of the lessons you can learn when watching THE IMPORTANT OF BEING EARNEST. This is a awesome movie. Very well done, a movie you that you are always thinking "uh oh there going to get in trouble." The music goes great with this movie. Must watch, you will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very funny and light, especially if you want to relax after a hard week. The music is great and will stick in your head.Prepare to hum.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
''The Importance of Being Earnest'' ia a well crafted film considering it had to follow in the foot steps of other great movies sharing it's title and the theatrical masterpiece by Oscar Wilde. I thought Rupert Everet and Colin Firth played incredibly well off of eachother. I've read that the actors have had their differences in the past, but they seemed to put that aside for this film, and it paid off. Judi Dench was hilarious, as was Rease Witherspoon. But the best part was how well the clever and funny plot was recreated. Being as it was just released on video/dvd, I highly recommend that you go rent it now for a great laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the BEST films of the year! What a marvelous surprise to see Colin Firth smiling, laughing, and singing! He is superb! It is hard to believe that he is the same actor who smoldered intensely without saying more than a few words in the brilliant BBC/A&E production of ''Pride and Prejudice.'' Colin Firth won our hearts then as the aloof but passionate ''Mr. Darcy'' and he is winning our hearts again as the lighthearted, guitar-strumming Jack/Earnest Worthing. The entire cast is fabulous, especially Judy Dench. Such lavish sets and attention to details. Our whole family enjoyed this film, even our youngest boy (age 5). There is a slight twist at the very end of the film which differed from Oscar Wilde's play. This may not make Oscar Wilde-purists too happy. Get the DVD version so you can listen to director Oliver Parker's commentary, and his explanations of the various scenes he added and the little twist in the end. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love movies that have a lot of forshadowing. Everyone in this movies is great. I thought is one of the best movies ever made.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone who saw this movie that I have talked to said that it was GREAT! Colin Firth and Rupert Everet are sexy as ever and the fun of seing them sing to their ladies is NOT TO BE MISSED! TOO MUCH FUN! I definitely recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best adaptations of Oscar Wilde's comic play!! It can only be described as ''DELIGHTFUL''!! A must see film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just adore this movie. I watched it for the first time this year and I have fallen immediately in love with it. It is laugh out loud fun with all the romance that you could ask for. I love seeing this side of Colin Firth. What talent!
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