Dead Boring, 20 April 2010
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A deeply disappointing second feature from Ricky Gervais. As a Gervais fan, a veteran of the era, and a champion of British Films, I had high hopes for this film. They were misplaced. At the core is a lack of confidence from both Gervais and co-writer Merchant as to what the film is.
It certainly does not succeed as a comedy. Neither I, nor anyone else, laughed. It does not work as a “kitchen sink ” social drama either, the casual racism is awkward and lacks context, and the sexism is stilted. The “coming of age” theme fails. It is clichéd, hackneyed and devoid of youthful spark.
That Gervais and Merchant don’t know what to do with the story is evidenced by the fact that it feels like a long 95 minutes too, even though it is about the ideal running time for a film. As for the location, it is supposed to be 70’s Reading, it could be anywhere. It has little sense of place. The opening shot has a London Red Double Decker bus ( they were not red in Reading, but it fits for an American release) wending its way along the high street of what looks like an upmarket Oxfordshire Village, not the monochrome monotony of Reading. Some of the Council Houses have modern Upvc windows painfully evident.
The characterisation is dreadful. We have the three young musketeers. A good looking one trying to make something of himself in an Insurance company, a good looking bad boy working in a factory, and a geeky fat kid who makes everyone else laugh – but gets the girl in the end. Bearing in mind that the plot is wafer thin, if the characterisation is not strong you are in trouble. And that is what happens here.Gervais is ineffectual in his fatherly acting role, insurance hot-shot Ralph Fiennes is hopelessly miscast.
An inspired sound- track makes the 90 minutes slightly less painful, but the song selections add nothing to the film itself. The language does not feel authentic and the attitudes and social mores are more 1950’s than 1970’s. Apart from the music, deciding when this was set would be difficult. A horrible misfire.