Lucky Break has one of those quintessentially creative and delightfully offbeat plot set-ups that have become the staple of excellent British comedies. One of the more popular British directors of the 90’s, Full Monty’s Peter Cattaneo tackles this musical tale about a jail break and a conflicted escapee who falls in love with an attractive prison employee. Match Point and Millions star James Nesbitt makes a charismatic and humorous leading man in his role as Jimmy Hands, who we meet roughly halfway through his sentence for an armed robbery gone awry.
The incompetent but well-meaning Hands is reunited with his bitter former partner in crime, Rudy (Lennie James) who is still predictably sore at having been abandoned by Hands during the mishap. Once inside the lower security prison, Hands realizes he has a lucky break when he uncovers and exploits the hobby of good-natured prison governor Graham Mortimer (Christopher Plummer) who has a passion for musicals.
Hands concocts the plan of staging the warden’s own musical composition in the old chapel next to the prison’s outermost wall and thus begins this funny, clever and compelling tale that finds our leading man having to overcome obstacles including persuading inmates to take part by bribing them with phone cards and being forced to include a fearsome con recently transferred while squaring off with a sadistic guard and becoming attracted to anger management counselor Annabel Sweep (Rushmore's Olivia Williams).
While most critics dismissed this film as a lesser trifle when compared with Full Monty, for my money, it’s even more entertaining and makes for a highly watchable and likable British comedy musical, that's even more fun on repeat viewings.