Time Out saysAttenborough's very traditional biopic is a disappointment. Going for the whole life has meant an even, plodding, surface treatment, and using the device of an old Chaplin reminiscing to the publisher of his autobiography (Hopkins) lends it an air of Desert Island Discs. The one imaginative stroke misfires: Chaplin's trademark bowler and cane magically presenting themselves to him in the props room like refugees from Industrial Light & Magic. The one conspicuous bit of mise en scène - Chaplin and Fairbanks (Kline) clambering about on the Hollywood sign (Hollywoodland: yes, they've done their research) - could have come from a commercial. Downey has captured the idealism and the melancholy, but not the sentimentality of the comic. He has also mastered the pratfalls and the balletics, and there are dazzling demonstrations when he does the drunk in the theatre box and the first impromptu audition for Sennett (Aykroyd), but he isn't funny. This is underlined when clips of the real thing are shown. A bit of a beached whale.
Cast and crew
Moira Kelly, Milla Jovovich, Kevin Dunn, Bill Paterson, Paul Rhys, Geraldine Chaplin, John Thaw, Dan Aykroyd, Nancy Travis, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr, James Woods, Penelope Ann Miller, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Kline, Diana Lane