'On a Clear Day'

"On a Clear Day" is another one of those working-class-hero movies that the British film industry has been cranking out by the dozens ever since "The Full Monty" hit it big.

It's just not a very good one.

Oh, it has the required helping of uplift, with its tale of a laid-off Glaswegian shipyard worker (Peter Mullan) who decides to give his life purpose by swimming the English Channel, rallying his friends and family in the process. And it's got moxie aplenty, with personal trauma to be surmounted, and long-buried issues to be reconciled, and all that.

Basically, it's the usual follow-your-dream formula, but even formulas can pay off now and then. "On a Clear Day" might have worked - or, at the very least, seemed a little less obvious - if first-time screenwriter Alex Rose had shaped its manipulative arcs with a modicum of grace, or if director Gaby Dellal direction had let the actors give their characters something close to a personality.

But no one made the effort. "On a Clear Day" is a movie built out of cliches, for people who, it's assumed, want to see nothing but cliches. And as much as I hate to say it, the whole thing went south when they cast Peter Mullan in the lead.

Mullan is a magnificent actor -- and he played a similar part to perfection for Ken Loach in "My Name Is Joe" -- but he's completely wrong for the character here: The story needs a hero who can be a bruised dreamer, but Mullan's intensity -- and the thousand-yard stare he affects for half of his performance -- makes him look a demented obsessive instead.

It does add an unexpected edge to the proceedings, at first ... but then you realize the movie isn't using his performance. It just doesn't care what he does, as long as he stays out of the way.

Universal's enhanced-widescreen disc has no extras whatsoever, which is a bit odd ... at the very least, you'd think a movie like this would come with a documentary on real-life Channel swimmers.

STUDIO: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2006
RATING: PG-13
PRICE: $29.98
TIME: 99 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: English, French and Spanish subtitles.
INTERNET SITE: www.iconmovies.co.uk/onaclearday