Oscar Wilde knew better than anyone how to tickle the funny bones of London audiences, and time has not dulled the luster of his one-liners or flawless comic timing. Well, until director Oliver Parker got a hold of his work. Parker takes the playwright's most famous creation about romantic pursuits and false identity and splices the dialogue, takes the stage-bound intimacy outdoors and makes it too, well, wild (tattoos on prim derrieres? How terribly gauche!).
The cast does what it can: Rupert Everett and Colin Firth prove totally believable chums, but Reese Witherspoon's Cecily seems artificial. As Lady Bracknell, Judi Dench delivers the goods (natch), and when the few laughs come, they are earnestly earned. It's just too bad they have to struggle to surface this time.