Monday 1 November 2010

Review: Burke and Hare

Year: 2010
Director: John Landis
Screenplay: Nick Moorcroft, Piers Ashworth
Starring: Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Isla Fisher

Synopsis is here

To describe Burke and Hare? Jaunty. It's a very silly mish-mash of Ealing-lite themes and efficient Landis direction that brought a smile to my face and a lovely feeling in my heart knowing that although this is no way near the best the filmmaker has brought us (where do we start?), he can still pull something out of the hat to tickle in the right place.

This is not to say that every joke works as well as it could, for every big laugh there's a few more titters. While it doesn't feel like that much of a hodge-podge, it's clear to see that every so often that Landis' film somehow slips into a more "American style". Don't ask me how, if you've read more than one of my rambling posts it clearly shows that I'm a mere mortal in front of gods (I urge you to watch Trading Places). But there are moments in structure and gags through out that just feel not so much out of place, but...odd. This is despite the fact that the screenwriters hail from these isles. There's a feeling that with someone else the film could be darker, more gruesome, more British, more....Ealing.

 This however does nothing to ruin Landis' enthusiasm to the piece(s), there's some nice moments that give that Ealing vibe (many stem through that wonderfully expressive Serkis face) while you can why the dastardly duo appeal to Landis who doesn't mind nearly portraying them as less musical but just as entrepreneurial blues brothers. If those guys were sent from Heaven then Burke and Hare must have been from the other place. Landis still manages to enthuse his trademark energy into certain sequences which while some don't completly pop, they still manage to crackle/cackle (delete where appropriate).

The cast are clearly game also. It should get tiresome of saying that Andy Serkis is great to watch (it doesn't) while Simon Pegg isn't brilliant with accents but not too shabby with giving his character enough humanity to allow us to latch on to this wicked twosome. A weak link unfortunately is a very underused Isla Fisher while Jessica Haynes (nee Stevenson) can easily do more but has fun with whats given. There's also nice small roles for Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and Ronnie Corbett who don't stretch too far but don't have to. There's also a truck load of silly little giggle-some cameos.

I won't say you couldn't do more with Burke and Hare. The trailer says 'orrible and gruesome but the outcome is a slightly more tame than one could imagine. There's also a tiny issue of the film's final act not coming together as well as it could have, with the final outcome aiming for quite a bit of bittersweet emotion, but missing the mark. Burke and Hare looks almost set to obtain middling reviews (see Robbie Collins or Boyd and Floyd on the BBC radio five podcast) but for myself I enjoy it more than enough to warrant another look when it crops up on television.