May 11, 1998 12:00 PM

Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend, Kate Beckinsale

Two con men, one a smooth-talking American (Futterman) and the other an English techno-geek, are having a jolly time scamming their way around London. Through such cons as persuading business moguls to invest in talking computers and convincing housewives that their husbands have ordered costly insulation, these two aim to raise enough money to build a lavish home for orphans. Two very specific orphans: themselves. Their scheme begins to go awry when they meet a lovely medical student (Beckinsale, of A&E’s Emma), who takes guff from neither and charms ’em both.

Shooting Fish, the debut effort by English director-cowriter Stefan Schwartz, is a thoroughly delightful film, right up there with British imports like Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Full Monty in displaying, to borrow a phrase from Noel Coward, a talent to amuse. Futterman (The Birdcage) proves the most engaging of cads, while Townsend is equally likable as his dorkier partner. And Beckinsale, as spunky as her haircut is spiky, just reels us in. Fish sputters toward the end, but that won’t keep you from leaving the theater with a huge grin on your face. (PG)

Bottom Line: Try it. You’ll like it

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