Movie review: ‘Salmon Fishing’ a charmingly offbeat comedy
Published: March 30, 2012 02:41PM
Updated: March 29, 2012 04:16PM
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Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked, left) goes fishing with fish expert Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) in a scene from the comedy "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Courtesy CBS Films

Before he won an Oscar for “Slumdog Millionaire,” screenwriter Simon Beaufoy made his name with whimsical British stories like “The Full Monty” and “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” — and brings that light touch to Paul Torday’s novel about an eccentric Arab sheik (Amr Waked) who wants to spend his oil millions to establish a fly-fishing stream in Yemen.

The sheik’s investment advisor, Harriet Chetwood-Talbot (Emily Blunt), enlists a government fisheries scientist, Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who’s doubtful that cold-weather salmon can be transplanted south of the Tropic of Cancer — but is forced to help when the Prime Minister’s scheming press secretary (crisply played by Kristin Scott Thomas) seeks just one story from the Middle East that doesn’t include the words “jihad” or “suicide bombing.” The outgoing Harriet and the socially inept Dr. Jones form an unlikely alliance, but romantic opportunities are tempered by Jones’ tepid wife (Rachael Stirling) and Harriet’s boyfriend (Tom Mison), a British Army officer just deployed to Afghanistan.

Beaufoy serves up a script filled with deft dialogue and breezy charms, giving plenty of room for McGregor and Blunt to shine in spite of director Lasse Hallstrom’s proclivity for easy sentimentality.

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‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’

Opens today at area theaters; rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content, and brief language; 107 minutes.