Most films I go and see because I want to, some I go and see because they’re important or hyped or I feel a sense of duty to you, my dear readers and finally, some I go and see only because The Mertmas really, really wants to see them. “The Harry Hill Movie” is such a film.
The plot, such as it is, concerns Harry’s long lost twin brother and a plot to kidnap his pet hamster, who is believed to have one week to live, leading to a madcap and goofy road trip to Blackpool.
Anyone familiar with Harry Hill’s particular brand of nostalgia soaked surrealism will know what to expect and given the right framework and team of collaborating writers (“TV Burp”, “You’ve Been Framed”) he can be very, very funny. Without them, he’s decidedly more hit and miss. “The Harry Hill Movie” is co-written by Jon Foster, a veteran of “The Armstrong & Miller Show” and “The Amazing World of Gumball” but even he can’t quite salvage this.
It starts brightly enough with a Motability scooter chase and a bunch of slapstick gags which are so rapid fire the misses don’t matter, but it soon runs out of steam and hobbles on from there to its conclusion. Peppered throughout, there are moments which will raise a smile, occasionally a chuckle, but mostly it’s eye rolling and bemusement at the calibre of the guest stars this muddled misfire managed to attract. Harry Hill is an immensely likeable personality and I desperately wanted this to succeed but, taken as a whole, it really is sub-CITV nonsense.
Julie Walters has fun as Harry’s nan, and if nothing else gives Michael Caine a snappy comeback to any questions about “Jaws: The Revenge” at the next “Educating Rita” reunion party but not even the likes of Matt Lucas, Simon Bird, Jonny Vegas, Sheridan Smith, Marc Wootton and, bizarrely, pop rock group The Magic Numbers can elevate the weirdly disjointed series of skits beyond children’s TV silliness. The presence of Julian Barrett is an unfortunate reminder that this kind of material can be made to work and be funny when it’s allowed to have a harder, more adult orientated edge, rather than being a kind of Diet-“Mighty Boosh”-Lite. One cameo which does work and provides a welcome chortle is Jim Broadbent’s crazy yet oddly convincing turn as a cleaning lady at the Blackpole (not a typo) Nuclear Power Plant.
Harking back (deliberately?) to the caper-style movie adaptations of sitcoms of the 1970s, “The Harry Hill Movie” feels anachronistic and lost in a modern cinema. The Mertmas loved it though and I suspect it will find a solid fan base amongst the under-10s but there are going to be a lot of bored parents checking their watches or having a sneaky forty winks while Harry mugs his way through the ninety minutes.