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This comedy drama, a sort of British version of The Big Chill (1983), was directed by Kenneth Branagh. Ten years after they were members of a music and comedy troupe at Cambridge University, a diverse group of friends in their early 30s gather at the expansive estate of Peter Morton (Stephen Fry), who's invited them there for a reunion. Among the guests are Andrew (Branagh), who has married Carol (Rita Rudner), the star of the American situation comedy he writes; lonely Maggie (Emma Thompson), who thinks she may be in love with Peter; Roger (Hugh Laurie) and Mary (Imelda Staunton), a couple in advertising who have lost a child; and single Sarah (Alphonsia Emmanuel), who's always attracted to the wrong men, including her latest boyfriend, the married Brian (Tony Slattery). Also on hand is Vera (Phyllida Law, the real-life mother of Thompson), a housekeeper who has protectively watched over Peter since childhood. Over the course of the weekend, various jealousies and fears are revealed between joyous feasts, but a startling, tragic announcement from Peter puts everyone's petty dramas into proper perspective. American stand-up comedienne Rudner wrote the screenplay with her husband, (Martin Bergmann).
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 31
- Fresh: 22
- Rotten: 9
- Average Rating: 6.3/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Although it addresses AIDS more directly than many films have, it remains a lightweight entertainment, enjoyable mostly for the fun of hearing arch, skillful actors deliver droll remarks.
Rotten: Peter's Friends won't win over anyone looking for depth - as drama, it's pure popcorn - but the vignettes are swept along by Branagh's richly theatrical temperament and by the exuberant wit of the cast.
Fresh: With a smattering of one-liners, and a dash of ironic spirit, "Peter's Friends" is a diverting, if modest affair.
Fresh: If film is basically a voyeuristric medium, then one of the questions that might be asked about "Peter's Friends" is: Would we like to be one of these friends, and attend such a reunion ourselves? I would.
Branagh’s Revenge on Laurie
The only entertaining thing about this movie is watching how director Branagh consistently sabotages all the scenes featuring his real-life then-wife’s (Emma Thompson) former boyfriend, Hugh Laurie (“House”). In Laurie’s big monologue near the end, Branagh actually circles the camera to put a Christmas tree between it and poor ol’ Hugh! It makes for a great drinking game: have a shot every time the camera cuts away from Laurie!