Gregory’s Two Girls (1999)
Written and directed by Bill Forsyth
Produced by Alan J. Wands, Christopher Young
Starring John Gordon Sinclair, Carly McKinnon, Dougray Scott, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Martin Schwab, Rebel, John Murtagh, Kevin Anderson, Fiona Bell, Hugh McCue, Alexander Morton, Dawn Steele, Gary Lewis, Matt Costello, Jane Stabler, Anne Marie Timoney
Nineteen years later, once-lovable Gregory occasionally teaches English at his secondary school to charges exasperated by his ceaseless sociopolitical bromides, parrots leftist fallacies and half-truths propagated by the likes of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, fantasizes pruriently about an unpleasantly pretty pupil (McKinnon) while evading the advances of a comelier coworker (Kennedy) who inexplicably adores him, consorts with a human rights activist (Schwab) of importuningly indeterminate provenance, investigates a past schoolmate and womanizing industrialist (Scott) whose company manufactures and donates electronics in concern of two students’ allegations that it’s constructing torturous apparati, and makes an arrant ass of himself during every waking minute.
They aren’t deliberately hinting at its commercial failure when daft defenders of Forsyth’s fortunately final feature correctly argue that it isn’t a lucrative retread of its antecessor; such a revisitation might’ve rekindled its humor or attractiveness, which are here absent. Instead, this vexatiously vapid, ill-imagined sequel reinvents him as a sententious twit who imbibes and regurgitates adulterated, post-Marxist contentions, and never so agonizingly as in dopey discussion with his obnoxious, hypocritical, culturally condescending, American brother-in-law (Anderson). Consistently unfunny scenes garrulously drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on without any mitigation, certainly not from depressing references to Forsyth’s hit from 1980. His audience is supposed to like an impressionable man-child whose infatuation with a thick, testy teenager leads him to forgo first a toward opportunity, then his livelihood, and ruin his life by commiting unlawful entry, trespassing, grand larceny, and coastal pollution, based on an accusation derived from inconclusive evidence.
As a kid, Sinclair was irrepressibly ingratiating; in his adultness, jerky, mincing, yammering, undersexed, gormless Gregory is a chore to watch, though decidedly more tolerable than McKinnon, whose schoolgirl’s single dimension is represented with the empty empathy, sneering sarcasm, and callous fatuity that forms her personality. Only skeezy Scott and canine tagalong Rebel are at all personable.
WARNING: to observe Sinclair’s simulated sexuality is to risk overwhelming, possibly emetic nausea.
Michael Gibbs composed his score in abidance with the utmost treacly conventions.
That titular Two disrupts what might’ve been memorable annomination, and it’s spoilage suited to Forsyth’s confusedly lightweight incroachment into Ken Loach’s territory. If he still wrote as well as he directed at this late date, his godawful last hurrah would be unrecognizable, if it ever existed at all.
Instead, watch if…. or Gregory’s Girl (again).