Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Contender Films/Entertainment 1

Reading Welsh weed smuggler Howard Marks' cult autobiography Mr. Nice, my first thought was, "This would make one hell of a movie!" So it didn't surprise me when I found out one was due in 2010, starring Rhys "Spike" Ifans as Marks. What did surprise me was the film's hush-hush release. And by 2011, I'd totally forgotten about it. Until I walked into HMV and there it was...

Dressed up like Liam Gallagher, Rhys Ifans definitely looks the part. And who doesn't love Chloƫ Sevigny? But other than that, director Bernard Rose and co. have cocked things up big time. You see, the thing about Mr. Nice is, it isn't just the weed. It's an adventure. A thrilling crime drama told with eloquence and style by a natural, charismatic storyteller.

So straight away, the animated DVD menu of Rhys Ifans blowing smoke out his nose and mouth and the blue weed leaf bullets in the Extra Features section struck me as surprisingly cheap and tacky - they might as well have colour-coded the packaging red, green and yellow.

For me, the appeal of Marks isn't the amount of hash he smoked, smuggled and sold. It's his romanticised image as this moralistic, weed-only outlaw. The Robin Hood of stoners. There's this deep emotional struggle to his story, full of pain, suffering and, of course, good times.

My main problem with the film is how quickly it breezes over things. Marks' amazing exploits have been turned into such a dreary, voiceless, dream-like series of events they make you wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. Ifans is good enough as a charming, '70s, rockstar dealer. But overall, Mr. Nice is bitterly disappointing.

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