Television is great now. We know this to be a fact. Great shows are coming out nearly every season, and there isn’t enough time to watch them all which makes me, as an almost obsessive media consumer very sad. However, I am always reminded that TV wasn’t always this good, with laughable plots, cardboard sets, hammy acting and that weird difference in quality between studio photography and on-location footage (oh and the really bad gender and race politics as well, but that’s another blog post entirely). A reminder of how good TV is and how bad it was in a funny way is new British comedy film called Mindhorn, written by and starring the best of British TV comedians. The question is, will Mindhorn be a good feature film, and will I ever learn how to introduce a review properly? Find out on this week’s instalment of “A Dude Reviews Movies for his WordPress Blog on the Internet”.
Richard Thorncroft used to be an actor at the top of his game, the star of hit Isle of Man cop show, Mindhorn. However, after stepping away from the role to pursue bigger and better things, he finds himself balding, out of shape and out of work. That is until he gets a phone call from the Isle of Man police asking if he can assist them with their investigation of a killer that has a strange obsession with the kitch TV show.
Produced by BBC films, Mindhorn plays as a who’s who in British TV, with a cast consisting of Julian Barratt (one half of the Mighty Boosh) as the washed up wreck of a man that is Richard Thorncroft, Steve Coogan as a jaded co-star, Russell Tovey, from Him and Her and Being Human, as the strange Paul Melly, as well as cameos from Simon Callow and Kenneth Branagh, plus a whole cavalcade of other recognisable faces. Plus with a script penned by Barratt and Simon Farnaby, star of Bunny and the Bull and Detectorists, there is definitely a comedy pedigree.
The production has a clear love and understanding of those cheesy cult TV shows that were big in the 80’s, right down to the costumes and the strange and weirdly dangerous merchandise that companies sold. Similarly, the movie seems aware of how bizarre its premise is; the low stakes of a small island police force investigating a single murder where the suspect is already known and uses it as an opportunity to poke fun at other staples of British mundanity, like local news and fetes. There is a glorious scene where the climax is acted in front of a crowd of people at a parade, and they think it is part of the show.
While there are some fine performances from these well-known actors, Barratt himself does an excellent job in the central role as the self-centered and slightly stupid Thorncroft. But regarding sustained quality, I must say that Mindhorn is as patchy as Thorncroft’s head. The story never really goes anywhere, there are narrative threads left dangling without much thought and there were sudden emotional, and plot turns that kept me out of the film.
Despite Mindhorn being a silly and at times hilarious romp around the Isle of Man, it never seems to come over as a feature film. It feels more like a TV pilot that has been stretched further than the farfetched premise will allow, which is a shame because with the right pacing it could have been one of the best comedies of the year. Instead it has left me wondering whether it would have made a better mini-series.
You can watch Mindhorn in Cinema’s now