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Brosnan, Thompson get goofy in old-fashioned caper flick 'The Love Punch'

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TORONTO - At last fall's Toronto International Film Festival — where the brutal drama "12 Years a Slave" won the audience choice award — Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan seemed fully aware that their goofy little comedy "The Love Punch" stuck out like a sore thumb.

"It's an adorable, charming romp of a film and in the context of the (festival) it stands alone reallly," Brosnan said of the film, which opens Friday in select theatres. "I don't think there's another film like it really. I mean there are great films here but this film is old-fashioned, somewhat retro."

Added Thompson: "I think it's time we made a few more films that are designed to make us feel happy. We don't do it very often and it's such a lovely experience."

"The Love Punch" — about a divorced couple who join forces when their retirement money is stolen — has the vibe of an old-fashioned caper flick and calls to mind the "Pink Panther" series, a favourite of director Joel Hopkins.

"I love those movies ... anything by Blake Edwards I adore — 'The Party,' the 'Pink Panther' movies," Hopkins said at the festival. "They just have a sort of irreverence and a spirit about them that's such fun. I was hoping to emulate that in a very small way."

Hopkins had previously worked with Thompson in "Last Chance Harvey" and penned "The Love Punch" with her in mind.

"I wrote this for her and I know her quite well now. I tell her about the idea fairly early on and we talk about it and so it helps me a lot as a writer," he said. "I know the way Emma can deliver things and what she can do, which is pretty much everything."

The idea that they might persuade Brosnan to play the male lead, Hopkins said, brought a "smile to their faces."

Turns out little persuasion was needed. The erstwhile James Bond says he has long wanted to work with Oscar winner Thompson.

The easy chemistry between the pair was evident at the festival, as they finished each other's sentences as they joked their way through an interview.

"Emma drew me to the project," said Brosnan. "Emma and I have talked about working together for such a long time. I've loved the girl for such a long time, and I still love her."

"Even after making the film," chimed in Thompson.

Said Brosnan of the entire experience: "It was like just pulling on a ..."

"Glove," finished her co-star.

Hopkins, too, was happy with their onscreen rapport.

"In this case, day one, (we) started filming and you pretty much immediately got this feeling, 'Ooh OK this is working," he said. "There was a buzz around the crew, you could tell this had good energy to it. Seeing them onscreen together was a pleasure."

Hopkins, Brosnan and Thompson all seem proud to have made a film with wide appeal (there is little that audiences will find offensive in "The Love Punch").

"I like the film being very accessible. I hope to be big in the middle of America," said Hopkins.

At the drama-laden festival, the director speculated that his film might give audiences some relief.

"Maybe after seeing some heavier fare, (they might think) 'Oh, OK, you know, I can take my jacket off and relax and have a good fun 90 minutes.'"

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