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13th June 2017

Review: Mindhorn

A stroke of genius by Barratt and Farnaby, Mindhorn is an outrageously silly, yet original and witty romp which will have you quoting it for days

Fans of the BBC cult-comedy The Mighty Boosh will be delighted to see Julian Barratt (Nathan Barley, A Field in England) finally land a lead role on the big screen.

Written by himself and occasional fellow-Boosher Simon Farnaby (Bunny and the Bull, Burke and Hare), the film follows Richard Thorncroft (Barratt), the washed-up star of an 80s TV crime show named ‘Mindhorn’, where he played the titular bionic detective who, with the use of a robotic eye, could literally ‘see the truth’.

Thorncroft’s career is well and truly down the drain, until a suspected serial murderer tells the police that he will only speak to Detective Mindhorn.  Consequently, Thorncroft is drafted in to the negotiations with the criminal, and the actor does everything he can to utilise the situation to reignite his dwindling career.

Despite the slight similarities with 2013’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Mindhorn really does feel like a breath of fresh air.  The laughs are relentless right from the get go, and is a welcome break from the constant churning out of film adaptations of British TV comedies.

It proves British TV comedy actors do not have to resort to rehashing their shows on the big screen in order to achieve cinematic success, as did Jack Whitehall in the dire The Bad Education Movie (2015) and Ricky Gervais in the plain David Brent: Life on the Road (2016).

It is also a unique chance to see the Isle of Man finally having a chance to play itself in a film, after being passed off as locations such as New York (Me And Orson Welles), Cornwall (Stormbreaker) or various other places in the majority of its appearances in film.

The jokes which Mindhorn delivers are genuinely hilarious, and offer as much ‘quoteability’ as comedies such as Hot Fuzz (2007) and the Monty Python films.  However, for those who have not seen the trailers, my advice would be to stay away from them before watching the film, because, as is the case with the majority of comedy trailers, they do show many of the best gags.

A cameo from Kenneth Brannagh is one scene which is almost shown in its entirety in the trailer, and will undoubtedly deliver more laughs if avoided before viewing.

It has to be said that Barratt and Farnaby have done a superb job in creating the fictional show of ‘Mindhorn’, with such zest and authenticity that you could not be blamed for believing that the 80s show genuinely did exist.

It is the backdrop of the fictional show which helps give a certain degree of credibility to Barratt’s ridiculous yet sympathetic Thorncroft, and it is exciting to hear the writers on the BBC Breakfast Show recently speaking about the possibilities of making a TV series of the fictional drama.

As with Alpha Papa, the film does begin to feel slightly stretched towards the end, the gags and humour becoming slightly usurped by action and hurried narrative resolution.  There is the slight suspicion that it would have perhaps worked better in a shorter and more succinct TV feature.  However, it is lovely to see Julian Barratt finally getting the limelight on the big screen, and in time to come, Mindhorn will possibly come to be mentioned along with recent greats such as Shaun of the Dead (2004) and In the Loop (2009) when people speak of great modern British comedies.



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