Review: 'Salmon Fishing In The Yemen'

The new film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. It's a pleasant fantasy whose few attempts at seriousness are best forgotten.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. Yemen is another troubled spot, home to al-Qaida militants and an Arab Spring uprising - not exactly the kind of place you would think of for salmon fishing, but "Salmon Fishing in Yemen" is the name of a new movie that opens today, and we have a review from Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a pleasant fantasy whose few attempts at seriousness are best forgotten. When Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor are your stars, that's easy to do. Another key to the film's allure is Kristin Scott Thomas' comic turn as a sarcastic British press officer who bites off dialogue that it was so much world-class toffee.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN")

KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS: (as Patricia Maxwell) Maxwell. Better be good.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) There's been a bombing in the Middle East.

SCOTT-THOMAS: What?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) My God, I didn't think we could make the war in Afghanistan any less popular, but, hey, even I can be wrong.

SCOTT-THOMAS: We need a good news story from the Middle East, a big one, and we need it now. You've got an hour. Get on with it.

TURAN: Enter "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN")

SCOTT-THOMAS: (as Patricia Maxwell) Is that the best you cocked-up, Oxford-educated, moronic buffoons can come up with?

TURAN: That counterintuitive notion was first floated, so to speak, by the bright and energetic Harriet played by Blunt, an investment consultant for a wealthy client who has a passion for bringing salmon fishing to his native land. Harriet starts by trying to interest Alfred, played by McGregor, one of the British government's top fisheries experts.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN")

EWAN MCGREGOR: (as Alfred) I'm a fisheries specialist. This is plainly ridiculous. There's just no way the salmon can survive in those sort of environments.

TURAN: This crotchety and deadly serious man couldn't be less interested, and treats her requests like the ravings of a lunatic. Fish require water, he says carefully. You are familiar with that concept? But despite initially thinking the other person is ridiculous, the fisheries expert and the investment counselor are not as mismatched as they might imagine, and soon are even flirting over fishing lures.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN")

MCGREGOR: (as Alfred) This one is the called the chairwood(ph) culvert beauty.

EMILY BLUNT: (as Harriet) That's very nice.

MCGREGOR: (as Alfred) It's true.

BLUNT: (as Harriet) You're not being funny.

MCGREGOR: (as Alfred) No. I don't have a sense of humor, as you recall.

TURAN: "Salmon Fishing" does work awfully hard to keep these two apart, but it's difficult not to harbor a sneaking suspicion that things just might play out otherwise. After all, it's that kind of film.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews that kind of film and other films for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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