Who's In It: Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Barnes, Kris Marshall
The Basics: Headstrong modern girl Larita--she's the first female Grand Prix winner and she may have poisoned her first husband--marries into a stuffy British family at the end of the 1920s. Her job is to charm them all. She mostly does. Your job is to enjoy the giant mansion, tweed, catty Noel Coward dialogue and eye-rolling servants You mostly will.
What's The Deal:You can count on the counter-programming departments of studios to release a movie like this as least once or twice a summer. They're for your mom. Or you. Or anyone else who needs a break from space adventures, battling robots and terminators and G.I.s named Joe. They're a reminder that somewhere in the world it's not 95 degrees outside and that there was a time when people dressed for dinner and took tea late in the afternoon and made mildly witty comments about the scanadalous behavior of that lady from last night's ball. They don't have to be amazing movies either--this one's just pretty good, pretty funny and pretty to look at. They just have to exist.
Prerequisites: Besides a guarantee of a theater with extra chilly air-conditioning that will necessitate you wearing a cardigan, it would help if you held strong beliefs about proper early 20th English comportment's need to be envied and lampooned simultaneously, a working knowledge of the definitions of words like "codswallop," and a passing acquaintance with the idea that Fortnum & Mason's can be a punch line.
Starring As Maggie Smith: Kristin Scott Thomas. She has all the best bitchy lines and she lays them down like she could do it in her sleep. Of course, having already appeared in plenty of movies like this, she probably can. And Biel's not bad either. It may turn out she's been underrated because she's beautiful. She's no match for Thomas but she kind of holds her own and that's more than I expected her to do.
Weird Bit At The End: A Billy Ocean song performed by Biel over the closing credits. Not sure why.