Monday, 24 April 2017

Mindhorn (2017) - Film Review


*Originally written April 24th, 2017*

During Mindhorn I think I discovered a type of comedy character that I love, and that's the washed-up, has-been celebrity trying to recapture former glories. From Kenny Powers, to Alan Partridge, and now, Richard Thorncroft.

Julian Barratt writes and stars in Mindhorn, a British comedy about a washed-up, has-been narcissistic actor who used to play a detective in an old campy, but popular sci-fi detective drama. In the modern day, Barrat's Richard Thorncroft is called back to play Mindhorn in real life in order to capture a murderer in the Isle of Man after the killer (Believing him to be a real detective), will only talk to Mindhorn.

There are obvious shades of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa here, another comedy where a has-been celebrity is called into a dangerous situation in order to diffuse a dangerous situation and become the hero and joke of the story. Thankfully, Mindhorn is very, very funny and stands on its own as one of the funniest British comedies in recent years.

Barratt plays it wonderfully as Thorncroft, an actor so desperate to reclaim the vanity of his glory years. Thorncroft isn't the most likeable of characters to root for, but Barratt's performance, is funny, desperate and pathetic enough to get us to go along with his journey of finding the murderer.

Julian Barratt as Mindhorn
Knowing nothing about this film at all going in (I don't think I've even seen a trailer), I was surprised by the amount of cameos involved. I won't spoil all of them, but I was drawing comparisons to Alpha Papa very early on in the film, so it was strange to see Steve Coogan pop up. There's a variety of funny and quirky side-characters for Thorncroft to bounce off and they were mostly pretty great. Simon Farnaby as Thorncroft's ex-stuntman was the most obvious highlight.

Where Mindhorn faltered for me, as do most British comedies, is with its pacing. Despite being less than 90 minutes, Mindhorn does feel like it stretches out its premise to breaking point at some scenes, and feels it overindulges in its plot in order to get this thing to a reasonable runtime. When the film did start to lose me, I was brought back in frequently, but it did lose me a few times. There's also some strange and misguided tonal shifts towards the end that felt unnecessary and quite dark for no real reason.

Mindhorn might have a couple of issues, but for the most part, it's one of the funniest British comedies I've seen in a while and Julian Barratt's performance is seriously great. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing a franchise out of the character of Richard Thorncroft/Mindhorn.

7/10 Dans

Mindhorn is out May 5th in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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