Tuesday 9 May 2017

Film: 'Mindhorn'

A 'one-joke' comedy which manages to make a slender 85 mins feel too long by half.

The 'joke' is that a star of a 1980s British TV detective series, 'Mindhorn', (Julian Barrett) is hauled out of an ignominious oblivion after failing, a couple of decades earlier, to make it in Hollywood and his career tanking still further following ill-advised drunken remarks on a TV chat show. His presence is now demanded by a serial killer (Russell Tovey - unfunny and annoying) who'll only communicate with the police through this character from the TV series which folded 25 years previously. So, now balded, paunchy, and out of condition, the ageing, past-it actor is roped in to try to lure the man into captivity by resurrecting the character. 
You might be able to imagine the humour, with situations including his former stuntman double (Simon Farnaby - also unfunny and annoying), his agent (Harriet Walter), former lover (Patricia Deville) and senior policewoman (Andrea Riseborough) - but surprisingly disappointing, there's also an under-used Steve Coogan as Mindhorn's former co-star, now much more successful than the his one-time partner. 
There are also cameos from Kenneth Branagh (uncredited) and Simon Callow - but, oh dear, did he have to mention 'Amadeus', just in case we needed nudging as to who he is? (For anyone not in the know, Callow was Mozart in the original London stage production of that play.)  

'Mindhorn' takes place on an attractive Isle of Man, which is one of its most interesting features - and this time it's not standing in for another location.. (For non-Brits who don't know, the Isle of Man is a smallish, modestly populated island in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and Northern Ireland, still with its own ancient Parliament, the 'Tynwald', and world-famed today as the location of the annual T.T. motorcycle races event ).

Despite my absence of enthusiasm I did manage to smile at a couple of points, both in the first quarter hour or so, when the story was being set up. But after that the whole enterprise quickly ran out of steam.
Director Sean Foley has done nearly all his previous work for TV. Now with a bigger canvas and budget it still seems small scale with material not substantial enough for large screen treatment. 

Incidentally, it might be of interest that whereas the film of 'The Promise' which I reviewed most recently, was accorded a certificate of '12A' despite its many harrowing scenes, comedy 'Mindhorn' is given a '15' certificate because of 'language and drug misuse'. 

There have been better-than-average reviews of this film. I must say that it did hold out the promise of there being something more special but, frankly, for me it wasn't realised. If it's any consolation I have to say it could have been worse!....................4.5.


  1. Oh dear......i would have asked for my money back

    1. I have seen worse, J.G., though plenty better. More people seem to be liking it than otherwise, so it must be just me.

  2. Yeah, we Americans got to see it this weekend. The hubby and I watched it yesterday and thought it was funny--but then again, we are Barratt fans!

    1. A lot of people are liking it, Sadie, more than otherwise. Who am I to argue? If it's funny to some then it did what it was intended to do.