Sunday, 18 June 2017

Mindhorn (15)

Us Brits have something of a checkered past when it comes to comedy on the silver screen.

For every gem Richard Curtis delivers, someone thinks Sex Lives Of The Potato Men or Lesbian Vampire Killers is a good idea - so approaching with caution is only sensible.

Also factor in Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby (who have devoted cult followings) doing an Isle Of Man version of Bergerac (as yer parents, kids) and there was very chance Mindhorn was going to be quirky at best...

But no.

Instead what we get is delightfully British comedy that actually has proper laughs and jokes in it, and doesn't make you want to hind behind the sofa until it stops and goes away.

The story could only come from a British mind, too.

Barratt plays washed-up actor Richard Thorncroft, famous for playing TV detective Mindhorn and precious little else.

Then a serial killer threatens more deaths unless Mindhorn is brought on the case - and hilarity genuinely ensues.

The plot is nuts bonkers, but that's half the fun here. The absurdity of the situation is taken way past its natural extremes and it's seriously a joy to behold.

Barratt plays the deluded waster to perfection, everything being done with a straight bat - which is what makes the comedy so good.

Often the temptation is to ham it up, flagging every gag with cheerleaders and a full band, but a good comedy lets the audience find the laughs - and that's very much the case here.

The story is just told straight, Barratt, Farnaby and their assembled star cast (Kenneth Branagh, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan, Russell Tovey, Simon Callow, Harriet Walter) all bringing their A-game to the party.

Setting it on the Isle Of Man is also a genius move.

Bergerac, for those too young to remember, was set on Jersey, John Nettles (off of Midsomer Murders) playing the titular copper solving crimes on a weekly basis.

The influence is clear and acknowledged, and bringing it to a different tiny island allows for such great scenes as a chase through an annual Mindhorn parade and a shoot-out on a small ride or two.

This sort of thing really couldn't work in any other setting.

It also allows for Thorncroft's massively overblown ego to be shown in sharp relief against such a tiny community.

In so many ways, this film shouldn't work.

It's niche to say the least, plus it's awash with in-jokes about actors and their self-obsessed view of the world, but somehow Barratt and Farnaby fashion a good cop caper that works on more than one level.

And crucially, it's funny.

A British comedy.


And not done by Richard Curtis.

Whoever thought that was possible?

For once, I'm really hoping for a sequel.

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