Making a Mountain Out of a Welsh Hill
"The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" is a silly title for a movie, but then it is a silly but highly enjoyable movie and it is enjoyable because it is one of those fun British movies set in a quirky village where the locals are a mischievous bunch. And what is especially nice is that whilst these sorts of movies are often set in Ireland or Scotland "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" is set in Wales, with quirky Welsh characters and traditions poking fun at the English. Having said that "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" is a movie which whilst having a fun story is delivered in a familiar style which you will either enjoy or hate.
Having arrived in the small Welsh village of Ffynnon Garw to measure what they proudly claim is a mountain, Reginald Anson (Hugh Grant - Four Weddings and a Funeral) and George Garrad (Ian McNeice) find themselves disappointing the locals when they tell them that their mound is a hill and is 20ft short of the required mountain heart. Undeterred the locals set about delaying Reginald and George's departure by any means necessary, including bringing in the beautiful Betty from Cardiff (Tara Fitzgerald - Brassed Off), whilst they set about carrying enough soil to the top of their hill to turn it into a mountain.
So the storyline to "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" is about this Welsh village trying to turn their hill into a mountain before the two Englishmen leave. But in truth whilst that is the vehicle what "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" is really about is quirky village characters in Wales. Right from the start we have the amusing reasoning as to why there are so many Evans, Williams and Jones in Wales and how they were referred to by their profession. It is quirky and a bit of fun mischief which sets the pace for the rest of the movie.
As such we get taken back to 1917 and immediately meet the ginger haired Morgan the Goat and also learn that many men of the Welsh village are away fighting yet many of the women have new born children with ginger hair. It's a typical quirky bit of humour and that is the sort of thing which fills up the entire movie be it a long standing argument between Morgan and Reverend Jones or to how the Welsh tell moaners stop being English. And of course we have the fun of this Welsh community trying to turn their hill into a mountain and delaying Anson and Garrad leaving be it by tampering with their car or telling them there are no trains.
There are a few other elements there is a romantic subplot which doesn't really deserve much discussion but there is also a subplot about Johnny Shell-shocked who returned home from war mentally scarred by what he saw. There is a brilliant scene where Johnny is up the hill in a storm and as lightening strikes the sight of the rain soaked mud and wooden walkways causes him to become paralysed in fear. It is a scene which almost doesn't fit in with the rest of the movie but leaves such a lasting impression.
Now what is also nice is that whilst Hugh Grant is the face of "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" it is really the quirky characters in the village which make it fun. It means that whilst Grant as Anson tones down but still trades on the stuttering young man act of his early career you have the fun of Colm Meaney as Morgan the Goat to distract you. And Meaney certainly does distract you with his mischief making but then so do Kenneth Griffith as Rev. Jones and the Vaughan twins as the Thomas Twp twins.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" maybe a stupid title for a movie the actual movie is a little bit of typical quirky village fun. Whilst the overall story maybe original the style and the humour is familiar and so if you are a fan of movies where you have quirky characters making mischief in a village you will enjoy this.