Ferguson (host of CBS’s The Late Late Show) takes us on a wild ride in his scintillating debut, a combination caper/morality tale with the barbed comic energy of a Carl Hiaasen novel.
We begin in the author’s native Scotland. Fraser and George are teenaged buddies, fishing in a canal, when George saves Fraser from the local bully. Fast-forward some 20 years. George is a criminal-defense lawyer with a wife (unloved) and a daughter (adored); he has just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Without telling his family, he splits for London, contemplating suicide. Fraser, more of a reprobate, is a cynical evangelist on Scottish television who cannot keep his hands off the ladies. A sex scandal ends his gig at the same time he’s invited to a convention of Christian broadcasters in the States. The invitation comes from Ferguson’s two other leads, Leon and Saul, offspring of the same mother but different fathers (Sinatra and Peter Lawford, respectively). The well-hung Leon has his father’s great voice; fat, physically repellent Saul has the brains, recognizing Leon as his meal ticket. After escaping the orphanage, they wind up in backwoods Florida, adopted by snake-handling Pentecostalists. Ferguson deftly juggles his three storylines. George, postponing suicide, travels to Paris and falls in love with gorgeous Claudette, the ultimate femme fatale (her six Great Loves have all died); she will help him find his “inner Frenchman.” The hard-drinking, whoring Fraser will be mugged in Miami and have a near-death experience. Leon and Saul will make a bundle in Hollywood (Ferguson looks balefully at its shark-infested waters) before scoring big on the religious circuit. There will be happy endings for everybody except the hateful, manipulative Saul.
Profane on its surface, ethical at its core and always fun, this debut marks the arrival of an important comic talent.