Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Harry Hill Movie

Fool on the Hill

Best Jim Broadbent cameo ever! A unique accolade, I grant you, but one in which The Harry Hill Movie can esteem great pride. In later times little else will distinguish this bland TV to cinema switch from the many similar failures discarded in Britain’s film archive. The Mike Leigh veteran (an Oscar winner, no less) plays an affable cleaning lady at a nuclear power station. Many more odd spectacles are provided by the mad-cap comic but Broadbent’s unexpected appearance is certainly the most endearing.

As a television project, Hill’s extended gag reel might have been an easygoing piece of light entertainment. Paying for it as part of the ‘cinematic experience’, on the other hand, is a waste of time and money. Hill is a fun, enthusiastic and original comedian but even his most ardent fan would struggle to defend ninety minutes of his antics.

Harry and his sprightly Nana (Julie Walters) live in the tranquillity of British suburbia until their pet hamster, Abu, becomes ill. The loyal pet is given a week to live by an evil vet (Simon Bird) so the whole family set off on a luxury holiday to Blackpool as a farewell treat. Waiting for them in Lancashire is Harry’s despicable twin brother Otto (Matt Lucas).

With a paper thin plot the team of writers have free license to dive into joke galore. Among the better sequences Julie Walters raps, giant carnivorous brains chase the protagonists in an homage to Jurassic Park and the warring brothers scale Blackpool tower for a climactic finale. Then, of course, Mr Broadbent makes his glorious entrance.

Who doesn’t want to see a chicken firing a machine gun? Colonel Sanders may have a few reservations but otherwise its fun, silly and harmless humour. In isolation such jokes are mildly amusing. Unfortunately, repeated exposure to this neutral style becomes tiring rather quickly. A poultry premise, indeed.

This orchestra needs more than one note to play with. As silly as the set pieces may appear, the script is far too restrained and conservative. There is nothing in the story to test the production budget or invite character depth into the proceedings.

The Harry Hill Movie, rather ironically, is no ‘movie’ in my sense of the word. Instead it is a thirty minute TV episode stretched way beyond its limit. More disappointingly, it fails to even aspire to be any more than that. Where did all the production costs go? Why can’t I see the money on screen? Show me the money, as Jerry Maguire once famously said. The Inbetweeners Movie worked with audiences because it had daring and ambition, twisting an expected formula to greater lengths. The bigger budget was there for all to see on screen, mainly through its use of an overseas location.

So why should anyone watch The Harry Hill Movie? With the exception of a delicious cameo from a British stalwart there isn't any reason to.


No comments:

Post a Comment