By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is the British-produced and British-led cast, Mindhorn. I caught this homegrown movie at the Phoenix cinema in Leicester earlier this week.
Directed by Sean Foley; Mindhorn stars Julian Barratt (co-writer), Simon Farnaby (co-writer), Steve Coogan, Essie Davis and Andrea Riseborough.
Barratt stars as has-been actor Richard Thorncroft who is best known for playing the title character in a 1980s detective series ‘Mindhorn’. When a serial killer starts committing murders, detective Mindhorn must work with the police to help solve the crimes as the suspect in question will only talk to the fictional character, whom he believes to be a real person.
After a brief introduction with Richard Thorncroft’s limited career, we quickly get to meet the real man behind detective Mindhorn. He’s a washed-up actor who chased the American dream, ultimately failing and now living in a flat in Walthamstow. His co-stars seem to have had the last laugh by staying true to the home of Mindhorn and setting up camp on the Isle of Man. Steve Coogan’s character Peter played the co-lead in Mindhorn and is a wealthy jack of all trades actor/businessman. Richard’s understudy and stuntman Clive (Farnaby) is now shacked up with his former flame Essie Davis but Thorncroft has never quite got over her.
Mindhorn, the film, will have a love/hate relationship with the audience. There will be witty comedy fans that will adore the slick comic language utilised but I think the movie will alienate the more slapstick fans. Although, there’s a fair amount of Mighty Boosh type sequences chucked in, especially at the climax when Richard does a dance-turned-fighting act.
Performance-wise, it’s as you’d expect. Barratt, Farnaby and Coogan are all on the money. They’re veterans on the comedy circuit and their chemistry off-screen really benefits their performance on screen. The scenes between Simon and Julian are certainly the highlights throughout. Even when you know what’s coming, the delivery makes you crease. Russell Tovey plays an interesting comedic role here (Paul Melly), an actor who isn’t a newbie in comedy but also not your straight-up comedian. He certainly has a lot of fun with his character and adds another ‘mad’ dimension to Mindhorn.
The leading ladies (Andrea Riseborough and Essie Davis) are given the straight-character roles here, they are utilised as characters that aid the comedy quips, rather than deliver them. Mindhorn is very much 80s style, with the women being the mature characters and the men being the immature numpties.
Mindhorn will give you the laughs you expect and hope for, but just not a lot of them. When you think Alan Partridge, you think hilarious sitcom. When you think the Alan Partridge movie, you think stretched-out episode with minimal amount of laughs – well I do anyway! I think Mindhorn could be labelled in the category. Like I say, it’s not unfunny, just some gags are better than others and they are too few and far between.
Overall, Mindhorn will give you the light entertainment you sought from a comedy picture at the cinema. When the jokes are on point, you crease; and the run time of 90 minutes is the perfect length to tell a detailed story and for the audience to stay amused. If you want a lazy Sunday (the Phoenix can offer this by the way!), then Mindhorn could be the one.
Cineroom’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
Mindhorn is screening at Phoenix Cinema right now – certificate 15