Yep, it’s British film time folks, be afraid! Well I say that, but for once, it’s not set in some Georgian large house where the ladies are being all frightfully coy about the gentleman who’s come to visit, or set in World War 2 again for the 3470th time. Nope folks, this time, we’re presented with Mindhorn from the warped minds of Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby. You may remember them both from the weirdness that was the Mighty Boosh from the BBC back in the day.
But here Julian Barratt pays a washed up actor Richard Thorncroft. He used to play a cop in the 80s who had his eye replaced and somehow got implanted with a new magic electronic eye which could tell when people were lying. Think 6 Million Dollar Man, but just on a British budget of £12. We see some adverts played wonderfully to its fully hammy potential and some awful filming with green screening for an episode. Cue some chat show silliness, some insults to all the cast and Thorncroft buggering off to LA before we come to the present day.
Turns out that back on the Isle of Man where the show was filmed, that people are being killed and the killer wants to talk to Mindhorn. Why? Well this chap on the phone (who goes by the name of “The Kestrel”) has a rather unhealthy obsession it seems with the cop. Only issue is that the washed up actor is stuck in Walthamstow in a crap flat where he can’t get any work whatsoever.
He even got replaced on adverts selling socks by John Nettles. F**king orthopedic socks too! So when the police come a-knocking, our fearless and penniless actor springs into action, and into costume. Mainly for Thorncroft trying to get enough publicity to become famous again and get DVD sales but still will be happy to do the right thing anyway…. maybe. It’s just fantastically stupid to see the over the top and deluded acting from Thorncroft as he goes into Mindhorn mode. He starts however getting pulled into a tale of murder, treachery and old wife who has got shacked up with the stunt double from the TV series. Because why not?
So as things go on, the tension and silliness only escalates to some pretty funny scenes as it goes, particularly at one point where the locals were enjoying a parade and well…. you just have to see for yourself. There’s just some things which cannot be spoiled and that’s one of them.
So Mindhorn then, is it any good? Does it make your Mindbrain cry with laughter or cry wanting you to put it out of its misery?
That’s rather tricky. For an international audience, there are plenty of references which will go over your head, particularly about the actor John Nettles. The budget for the film clearly was about £50 which may let it down somewhat and to set it on the Isle of Man, truly is a head scratcher at first as will many people get why they take the p*ss out of it looking like a place stuck in the 1950s?
So the humour may not always hit where it needs to. But then again, there are some scenes and dialog that will just leave you laughing hard. In fact there are some great laugh out loud moments all involving Steve Coogan and Kenneth Branagh when they briefly show up. Simon Callow too is a delightful arsehole during his brief appearance, and there’s no way you wouldn’t at least have a big smile on your face. The use of locations is quite well chosen, including a wonderful p*sstake of the the Hollywood sign, and the climax being on a beach where, there’s nowhere to run.
Performances are wonderful by all the cast and you really do have to pay attention for the real prize lines that are said during the whole film. The level of cheese and crassness is perfect. So I can say, if your sense of humour is out there, along the lines of the Mighty Boosh style, and you’ll get the references, then please go and see it. At least it’s something new from what a lot of British films seem to be a lot of the time, but if you don’t want to, by all accounts, it will be on Netflix on May 12th in all territories so at least, then you can see for yourself.