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Stars: Julian Barratt, Andrea Riseborough, Harriet Walter, Russell Tovey, Steve Coogan, Essie Davis, Kenneth Branagh, Jessica Barden, Simon Callow, Nicholas Farrell, David Schofield, Simon Farnaby

Director: Sean Foley

A complete collection of dismal British film comedy could run pretty deep, but Mindhorn would turn up pretty near the bottom of the heap. Devoid of laughs save a couple of mild chuckles in the first half, the ham-fisted proceedings hand a starring role to Barratt, one half of The Mighty Boosh, as a former TV star who, on the back of TV success as black-patched detective Mindhorn, went to Hollywood - and bombed.

Now, gone to seed, the wig-wearing actor is reduced to advertising anti-thrombosis socks. His agent (Walter) drops him, but salvation of a sort beckons when the Isle of Man police summon him to track down a suspected murderer known as The Kestrel (Tovey), a Mindhorn fan from way back.

Once on the Isle, he tries to reconnect with his old flame (Davis), now a TV presenter, and his former agent (Richard McCabe), now a caravan-dwelling drunk, while proving the despair of DC Baines (Riseborough) and her colleagues.

There hasn't been a comedy this broad (thank goodness) in quite a while, but, since the BFI, BBC, Ridley Scott and Steve Coogan all seem to have put money into it, someone must have thought it had comic possibilities in the first place - and, to be fair, one or two of my fellow-critics giggled happily more or less throughout at the preview I attended.

The leading players, Barratt in particular, seem to find the whole thing hilarious; their performances give hamming a bad name. Film is shortish but not short enough.

David Quinlan

UK 2016. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Cinelease.
86 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 02 May 2017