"Reel Reviews: ‘Downton Abbey’ geared towards fans of the series than newcomers" by: Jessica Shepard

   Last week, the Boys and Girls Club held its annual red carpet fundraiser featuring “Downton Abbey” in its debut weekend.
   I have to admit that I’ve never seen more than a few episodes of the famed TV series during its six-season run that ended in 2015.
   But, not only was it a new release, it was also a fundraiser, so I attended and found myself quickly lost in British humor and a family of characters I had no point of reference for.
   In fact, it’s much better suited to fans of the series or someone more invested in it than I am.
   Still, I had a few good laughs and enjoyed it as an overall historical fiction period piece.
   Downton Abbey is rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language and has earned over $72.2 million while taking over box offices worldwide.
   The film stars series favorites and newcomers, including: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Michael Fox, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Mark Addy, Max Brown, Stephen Moore, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, Jim Carter, Tuppence Middleton, and Richenda Carey.
   The film begins in 1927 when Robert Crawley (Bonneville), the Earl of Grantham, receives a letter from Buckingham Palace announcing that King George (Jones) and Queen Mary (James) are coming to Downton Abbey as part of a royal tour through the country.
   Robert first informs his daughter, Lady Mary Talbot (Dockery), and son-in-law, Tom Branson (Leech).
   When Violet Crawley (Smith), Dowager Countess of Grantham, hears the news, she is perturbed that Queen Mary’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Maud Bagshaw (Staunton), will also be coming to Downton.
   Lady Bagshaw is Robert’s first cousin once removed, and the two families have had fallen out over an inheritance issue.
   When the royal staff arrives, including the Royal Page of the Backstairs, the Queen’s Royal Dresser, and Richard Ellis, the King’s Royal Dresser, the Downton staff are affronted by their arrogance.
      Lady Mary believes that Thomas Barrow (Collier), Downton Abbey’s butler, will fall short for the royal occasion.
   She asks Mr. Carson (Carter), Downton’s retired butler, to temporarily resume his former duties, upsetting Barrow.
   In a moment of rare candor, Barrow strongly protests to Lord Grantham, who is impressed with Barrow’s integrity.
   Consequently, he tells Lady Mary that Barrow will not be sacked.
   Downstairs, the plumber who arrives to repair the broken boiler flirts with Daisy (McShera), upsetting her fiancé, footman Andy Parker (Fox).
   A man calling himself Captain Chetwode (Moore) arrives in Downton village.
   He seeks out Tom, who suspects he is a royal detective involved with security for the royal visit.
   Lady Mary sees Tom and Major Chetwode leaving a pub together and follows them.
   Before the Royal parade through Downton Village begins, Chetwode finds the king on his horse awaiting the Royal Artillery.
   When he aims a pistol at the king, Tom tackles him to the ground, Lady Mary stomps his hand and kicks the weapon away which leads to him being arrested afterward.
   Meanwhile, Tom has met and formed a mutual attraction with Lady Bagshaw’s maid, Lucy Smith (Middleton).
   The household is completely taken over by the royal visitors and their entourage.
   Naturally, there’s also plenty of other intrigue and family issues coming to light through the course of the film.
   But, the household isn’t without its fair share either.
   Overall, I can only recommend this movie if you’re a fan of the series of Maggie Smith – that’s the best part for me.
   Smith plays a very much unfiltered Dowager Countess with a sharp wit and quick tongue which lends itself to plenty of laughs.

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