Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson), the vicar for the small English country parish of Little Wallop, has allowed his marriage to Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas) go stale, and he is so detached from his family, that he has not taken notice that his seventeen-year-old daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) is going through a succession of relationships with unsuitable boyfriends, and his son Petey (Toby Parkes) fears going to school, owing to being bullied. Out of desperation for affection, Gloria begins to fall for the advances of Lance (Patrick Swayze), an American golf pro who is giving her “private” lessons. The problems upsetting the family start to fade away after Grace Hawkins (Dame Maggie Smith), the new housekeeper, arrives and starts tending to matters as an older, and rather darkly mysterious version of Mary Poppins.
User Reviews: Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a woman with problems. Her clergyman husband seems not to notice that she’s there, and she resents his job, her daughter is sex-mad and her son is being bullied, and she is deprived of sleep by the incessant yapping of the neighbour’s dog. Then into her life walks an angel in the form of a new housekeeper, Grace.
Thomas does very well with the central role in the film, Rowan Atkinson is absolutely brilliant as the mild-mannered clergyman Walter, and Maggie Smith is amazing as always as Grace.
This is not a side-splitter comedy but it is certainly a comedy, as it deals with a number of serious issues of religion and morality with a light touch. Primary among these issues is the age old question of "whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them." Gloria’s approach to her "sea of troubles" is the approach of Job, and sure enough we hear echoes of this as Walter composes a sermon referring to the Book of Job. Grace has another approach.
Having a character who is a vicar enables the filmmakers to slip such Biblical references naturally into the script. It is a definite treat to hear Atkinson read the Bible (and in circumstances which make the viewer actually listen to what is being said!). Even with the Bible-reading, though, do not make the mistake of thinking that this is a film for young kiddies or prudes.
The film is so deftly made that there is always a lighthearted tone no matter how dark the subject matter, and the acting ranges from solid to exceptional. It’s not the greatest film ever made but it is engaging and enjoyable.