directed by Nick Mead
, and produced by Tapestry Films
and The Kushner-Locke Company
, starring Hugo Speer
(of The Full Monty
fame), Lisa Stansfield
(the singer), Alexei Sayle
and former loud landlord from The Young Ones
), Nerys Hughes
(from The Liverbirds
), Rita Tushingham
, Tom Bell
, and Danny McCall
Martin (Speer) leaves prison and decides to set up a swing band: he's learnt the saxophone in prison and can play it rather well (presumably it was a fairly long stint). He goes looking for his ex-girlfriend to get her to front the band. She is now married though, to his arresting officer, who likes to wear policeman pjyamas and has a problem with premature ejaculation. The girlfriend (Joan) decides to help him out anyway, and, of course, gradually realises that she still loves him, and never really loved the policeman at all. Ho hum.
The band gradually assembles - a footballing double-bassist, an ex-fascist-punk drummer and a brass section composed of Orange Order bandsmen: given the Catholic nature of Martin's family, this is not the best of ideas. Alexei Sayle heads the brass - when he first arrives to hear the band, he utters one of the film's best lines: 'If you're shite, we're walking'. Smashing. The band, in the time honoured tradition of this sort of film (The Full Monty, The Commitments, Brassed Off) begin fairly abysmally, and then, suddenly, after some montage sequences, are excellent. And they are too - the music is by far the most compelling aspect of the film.
There's further shenanigans with problematic brothers, discontented fathers, fights, skinheads, and a lunatic lottery winner - needless to say, it all ends well. Of course it does: it is, by far, the most contrived and assembled-from-the-best-bits-of-others films I have seen. Watching it is like watching a documentary on what to have in a British film (music, violence, humour, jokes about people not being good at sex, some more jokes about people wanting to have sex, a chip van, some more music, a comedian being serious... all standard fare). The problem, though, is that making a film by assembling the best bits of others is precisely how not to make a film. It shows.
It does hold together, but the audience really has to want it to. Stansfield is great, Sayle, funny, and the music stunning. That's about it. But worth watching for those alone.