'Salmon fishing in the Yemen,' based on a satirical novel, manages to lose the satire in damp whimsy despite a good cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Kristin Scott Thomas.
I'll say this much for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," it's got a catchy title. But beware of films with catchy titles. The films themselves usually don't live up to them.
Such is the case here, even though the source material, Paul Torday's eponymous novel, is highly regarded in England as a prime political satire. As directed by Lasse Hallström ("Chocolat") and written by Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire"), it's a soggy farce that not even its top-notch cast, which includes Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Kristin Scott Thomas, can rescue – though not for want of trying.
About that title. It seems that a Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) wants to extend the sport of fly-fishing to the Arabian Peninsula. He wants to fill western Yemen's bone-dry Wadi Aleyn desert with water and 10,000 North Atlantic salmon. As boneheaded as this sounds, the British prime minister's flinty spokeswoman, Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas), thinks it could be a welcome diversion from Middle East bad news – plus she dis-covers that 2 million British voters love to fish.
What they don't love, she soon discovers, is their salmon population being airlifted to Yemen.
The sheikh's folly eventually becomes a kind of reality thanks to Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt), the sheikh's English businesswoman representative, and the highly reluctant Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor), a fisheries expert who thinks the whole enterprise is daft.