Arthur’s Whisky review – Diane Keaton and Lulu in enjoyable body-change comedy

<span>Photograph: Sky</span>
Photograph: Sky

Viciously anodyne but not entirely unamusing, this older-folk-skewed comedy puts a gentle spin on a well-worn device, the magical-body transformation. In some genteel corner of England, retirees Joan and Arthur are leading a life of quiet resignation. She does gardening and whatnot; he potters with inventions in his shed. One night, his latest concoction, a formula mixed with whisky that will de-age a person back to the body she or he had in her or his early 20s, actually works. Arthur goes outside to holler triumphantly during a storm and gets struck by lightning, leaving Joan a widow.

After the funeral, Joan (Patricia Hodge) and her two best friends, crafty divorcee Linda (Diane Keaton) and baking-obsessive Susan (Lulu), get stuck into the whisky/youthifying brew and wake up looking like the lithe young women they once were, played by three new actors: Esme Lonsdale as young Joan, Genevieve Gaunt as young Linda and Hannah Howland as young Susan. After a predictable bout of screaming and working out that the effect doesn’t last more than six hours, they soon start to enjoy feeling stronger and healthier. (There’s a funny gag that has Linda just repeatedly getting out of a chair and sitting down again, burbling with delight in finding it doesn’t hurt.)

The attentions of male suitors at a club, however, are not always welcome but Susan meets a handsome, middle-aged stud muffin who shares her passion for food, Joan considers looking up an old flame, and Linda pays a spiteful visit to her ex-husband in order to taunt him about turning 70. The climax wraps up most of the threads in Las Vegas where the women go for a last hurrah as the whisky runs out where they meet a cheerful drag queen and see Boy George on stage.

The cast, from the leads down to the bit players, feels pretty random, and some might wonder if the ensemble hasn’t gone through a number of transformations between greenlight and the wrap party. But the core threesome have a pleasant chemistry and are pros enough to make it work for an audience unlikely to be especially critical.

• Arthur’s Whisky is released on 1 January on Sky Cinema.