A charming, lightweight comedy, "The Actors" goes in one eye and out the other, but provides a pleasant buzz along the way.
The amiable, daft tone is captured by award-winning stand-up comic Dylan Moran, who plays Tom - an actor struggling along as a Nazi stormtrooper in a dodgy Dublin production of "Richard III".
The play's title role falls to Anthony O'Malley, a bitter old thespian convinced he's never received the acclaim he deserves. He's played by Michael Caine, but this is not a documentary.
About to be evicted, deluded with his pitiful career, O'Malley hatches a plan to con a case of cash out of reformed local hood Barreller (Michael Gambon). All Tom has to do is pretend to be a goon hired to debt-collect for a notorious London gangster.
Only, of course, there are complications. Not least the arrival of a real gangland henchman, and Tom's burgeoning love for Barreller's daughter Dolores (Lena Headey). Scared witless, with barely a brain cell between them, the actors turn to Tom's precocious niece (Abigail Iversen) for advice, leading to more disguises and ever-more ridiculous japery.
Yes, it's all rather silly. But it's also all rather fun. Writer-director Conor McPherson - an acclaimed playwright who previously scripted "I Went Down" - effectively and affectionately lampoons the pomposity of actors (O'Malley wants to play Hamlet with "just the vowels"), while Moran makes an endearing lead.
But it's Caine's picture. Whether relishing the chance to slaughter Shakespeare on stage, or proving a cowardly letch off it, he displays delightful self-deprecation and comic timing (plus, there's a scene in which he's "Dressed to Kill").
You'll still be hard pressed to remember "The Actors" five minutes after the credits roll, but it has no pretensions to be art - simply a good laugh. A picture of Kind Hearts, if no Coronets.
"The Actors" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 16th May 2003.