I'd be lying if I stated that this film didn't raise more than even a smidgeon of a smile in me. It did - maybe a couple of times at most. Problem is, this comedy just isn't.......well, funny!
Well-known British TV and stand-up comedian, Rob Brydon, plays a bored London business accountant who manages to get himself estranged from his wife (Jane Horrocks) when he suspects her of having an affair. On a relaxing visit to the public baths one day, he finds sharing the pool with him are seven middle-aged men (one younger) who, he's intrigued to find, are practising formation swimming. He offers advice based on his expertise with figures and when he suggests they need to be an even number he gets roped in, offering little resistance, as No. 8.
I'd heard of, or could recognise by sight, most of the other actors in this swimming group - Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays, Thomas Turgoose - to which add Adeel Akhtar, Nathaniel Parker and Robert Daws.
They discover that there's to be (guess what?) a 'World Competition in Men's Formation Swimming' in Milan the very next month. Who would have thought it?! In one month's time? Blimey, they'd better get their skates on! And so they go about hiring a no-nonsense female coach (Charlotte Riley), exactly the hard task woman they need to bark orders at them to get them into shape and get them trained. You can easily picture the scenes can't you? - just as you can imagine how the rest of the film goes. Change the sport and we've seen it all told countless times before.
Director is Oliver Parker who's directed a number of films in recent years of Oscar Wilde adaptations. He does what he can with this but the material is too thin to spread far and, despite the novelty of the sport, it's ever so predictable. Also, I'm not sure whose idea it was to have much of the background music being mock-Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack. It sounds like a desperate attempt to whip up enthusiasm in the audience though, frankly, it sounds plain ridiculous rather than humorous.
Any comedy that does exist relies on physical humour rather than the unexceptional script, which for me fell flat because it's all so familiar. Little is done to exploit the unique aspect of swimming.
There are a couple of tangential references to gayness, but nothing controversial or even vaguely offensive.
I'm not sure this film will pick up much business outside this country as it's a fairly parochial affair - though 'The Full Monty' (to which this is being unfairly and unrealistically mentioned in the same breath) did turn out to be an international success - so we'll have to hang fire on that one. At just one hour and a half it still comes across as laboured.
Despite its heart being in the right place, it simply ought to have been funnier!............3.5.
(IMDb.......6.4 / Rotten Tomatoes............5.1)
5 hours ago