This week the London-set Somers Town (that’s Kings Cross to you and me), the spy ‘comedy’ Get Smart and some dirge from Disney called College Road Trip.
With Somers Town, director Shane Meadows has left his traditional East Midlands stomping ground behind and headed to London where the streets are paved with Eurostar-funded gold. Like his last film, the phenomenal This is England, it stars Thomas Turgoose and is a black and white story of teenager friendship and adolescent longing in the concrete surrounds of Kings Cross. The reviews are acceptable if not gushing. Peter Bradshaw (3-stars) in the Guardian finds it to be a “slight, gentle, sweet-natured comedy” but like other reviewers feels its origins as a short film let it down, “Somers Town is something between acorn and oak: not quite the lovely coming-of-age comedy it could have been. It is simply too slight”. The Times’ 3-star review essentially agrees, “It aspires to the new wave of London immigration thrillers by Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) and Anthony Minghella (Breaking and Entering). But it’s not cruel enough.” However for us London lovers (what, on this website?) it may appeal as, “London looks amazingly vibrant; it's a paradox of some black and white photography that it brings unexpected shades to places we thought we knew well,” the Independent (2-stars). There’s also a consensus that Turgoose is a natural star and turns in (another) great performance.
There is no doubt that Steve Carrell is a very funny man, however he needs to stop churning out mediocre fare like Get Smart or he’s going to be this generation’s Steve Martin – slumming it in terrifyingly unfunny comedies. As the Guardian notes in its 2-star review “Carell can look eerily blank and lifeless without the right script”. The film is an adaptation of some creaky old US TV show about spies that no-one in the UK ever cared about. The Times (2-stars) casually dismisses it as a “faintly amusing blockbuster” while The Independent (2-stars) says that “the time ticks by very sluggishly”. Anne Hathaway doesn’t get much mention beyond being “the gorgeous sidekick,” which presumably wasn’t much of a stretch.
This week’s Crap Comedy Corner offering is College Road Trip, which deceptively (and disappointingly) is neither a slasher horror flick nor a teenage smutfest. It’s actually a Disney film starring Martin Lawrence and, as the Times questions, “what kind of a sadist would put those two together?” (1-star). It’s got predictably dire reviews everywhere with the Guardian describing it as a “chillingly brain-dead family comedy” (1-star).
So in summary, go and see Hellboy 2 (which opened last Wednesday) or watch The Dark Knight again. Or find somewhere still showing Man on Wire. Or watch Persepolis on DVD. Or start training for London 2012. All better options than this week’s releases.
By James Bryan