Reviews | Written by Ed Fortune 09/05/2021


Stealing Chaplin is a weird premise for a comedy crime caper. Two idiotic British conmen  living in LA decide that the best way to pay off their debts and maybe make a bit of money is to kidnap a famous person; specifically Hollywood Legend Charlie Chaplin. As this movie is set in the modern day, Chaplin is conveniently dead, so they decide to dig him up. It’s a quirky idea for a feature that doesn’t quite live up to its promise.

Low budget crime comedies are a tricky thing to pull off -  comedy is hard and making crime exciting and interesting without being too grim requires skill, timing and good performances.  For the most part, Stealing Chaplin finds the balance, but when it slips it does slip quite bady. Much of the action and humour revolves around the characters of Terry and Cal, played by  Doug and Simon Phillips.  The problem is, weirdly, that the chemistry between the two is just a little off – both come across as genuinely bad people rather than hapless idiots and this makes the humour a little darker than intended, despite solid performances from both of them. They come across as an grim-dark version of the Chuckle Brothers in places and this just doesn't quite work.

You can clearly see what the movie is intended to be; a smooth slapstick drama in which two fools navigate their way through Hollywood’s underbelly with a hare-brained scheme that just about works. Instead what we have is a very choppy story;  little time is given to develop some of the characters and in an attempt to create a whacky ‘pile-on’ where multiple factions are chasing the corpse of Chaplin, the con-men or both, we end up losing track of both the plot and the comedy.

There’s also a noticeable shift in tone in the second act; it’s as if the creators decided to flirt with ‘Tarantino but lighter’ approach and then suddenly changed their mind. This is jarring and it’s a pity as if it was a little more consistent this would be a much better movie.

They are some nice touches; the movie is divided into chapters,  each using a Chaplin quote and some of the set gags really work. Alas the overall experience is all over the place.  Stealing Chaplin is a fun, forgettable and not terribly well put-together flick. It’s worth a watch as it has some stand-out moments but it’s not one to make too much effort to seek out.

Release Date: Out Now (US)