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Harry Hill Movie, The


Stars: Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Simon Bird, Guillaume Delaunay, Matt Lucas, Sheridan Smith, Marc Wootton, Julian Barratt, Jim Broadbent, Johnny Vegas (voice)

Director: Steve Bendelack

Cineastes beware!

This zany comedy delivers exactly what it says on the can, as doctor-turned-television-comic Harry Hill serves up a series of seriously silly sequences linked by his drive-against-time to Blackpool so that his apparently dying pet hamster (voiced by Johnny Vegas) can have the last holiday of his life.

Meanwhile his evil twin Matt Lucas seeks revenge for their parents having dumped him as a child by the roadside to be raised by Alsatians and Hill and his gran Juliie Walters are pursued by sinister vet Simon Bird who is following his own unpleasant agenda.

So far, so loony – and plenty of easy laughs as various films such as Jurassic Park and a well-deserved spoof of Les Miserables that was particularly enjoyable – are sent up rotten and the show is spiced with daft musical numbers and increasingly surreal sidebars, including Hill falling for underwater shell maiden Sheridan Smith.

Unfortunately there are no subtitles, which further spares reviewers from commenting on the film, particularly as The Harry Hill Movie was never given a press show.

So what then will audiences get for their money?

Well, certainly not an art movie.

While there is a narrative arc – will Harry, Walters and the hamster make it in time? – the film is simply a series of daffy sketches put across with infectious zest and threaded onto the overall story.

So is there a genre?

Yes – obviously lunatic comedy in the tradition of Hellzapoppin and its celluloid ilk.

And for those seeking a more serious subtext, it’s patently a road movie.

Fans of 1950s B film monster movies are catered for, too, when Harry’s hamster is transformed by radiation at an atomic power station into a giant rodent that shoots lethal green rays from its eyes at the expense of pursuing troops. So could it be Attack of the 50-foot Hamster then?

So what?

Medics as comics have long been a cinema staple in genre comedies like the ‘Doctor’ films, Carry on Doctor and similar mirthful medic clones.

Here the physician-as-comedian genre goes one further: its star and co-writer is a qualified doctor.

Hill, who is still on the General Medical Council's list of Registered Medical Practitioners under his real name, abandoned putting stitches into patients in favour of leaving people in stitches, first as a radio comic, then on television and now as the perpetrator of enough lunatic comedy to please his fans and very likely make more fans in the process.

Let’s face it, it’s a tad less subtle than root canal work carried out by a drunken dentist but there’s still much to entertain. Hill and Walters are good over-the-top fun, Lucas is hammy enough to end up at the National Theatre and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent in drag is worth the price of admission alone (and don’t tell anyone, I actually paid to see the film and will have to live with the shame of it for the rest of my life as a reviewer) but serendipitously I got my money’s worth.

Anatomically speaking, while the movie clearly doesn’t know its arts from its elbow, Hill’s medical training has efficiently equipped him to tickle the funny bones of unpretentious entertainment seekers.

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Dec 2013