Peter's Friends is a good little film that desperately wants to be a very good film but can't help falling short of that goal. Although it is frequently criticized for being a knock-off of The Big Chill, Peter's really has little in common with it other than the idea of a reunion of a group of old friends. In tone, Peter's is quite different than Chill: freer, looser, and wackier, although it still has its more serious moments. Unfortunately, it doesn't always mix the comic and the serious as well as it might, and Rita Rudner and Martin Bergman's screenplay also traffics in a few too many clichés for comfort, especially toward the end. Still, it does have many genuinely funny moments and more than its fair share of amusing lines and bits. Kenneth Branagh's direction is a bit uneven in spots, but he certainly knows how to get the most out of his ensemble (with the exception of Rudner, who at times seems to be performing in a different movie altogether). Best among the rest are Emma Thompson, whom one wants to simply wrap one's arms around and hug, and Stephen Fry, who is wryly cynical yet still warm. If Peter's is not a great film, it still provides a great deal of entertainment.
by Craig Butler review