Jun 19, 2017

[Movies] Mindhorn (2016) Review

Tobie's trip to the US left me with a lot of alone time and thus I explored some unusual parts of the libraries of various streaming services. My primary guide for selecting a movie or TV show to watch was something that we wouldn't necessarily enjoy watching together - or something that would be more for me to enjoy than he would.

Enter Mindhorn, an odd duck of a movie that is both British and a celebration of 80's TV culture. But it's meant to be a celebration of 80's British TV culture, which is similar but not quite the same as what is probably more familiar to us in the Philippines with respect to American 80's TV culture.

But like a lot of ventures that try to celebrate the 80's, this movie doesn't quite get all the feels quite right. It's not easy to perfectly recapture that sort of "magic" (if you can even call it that) that defined that time period in terms of its styling, language and fashion or for any other notable time period for that matter. They tried to have interesting references and key notes here and there but on the whole it was a little odd and not quite as funny as hoped.

Synopsis: Mindhorn is a British comedy movie directed by Sean Foley. The screenplay was written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby. It's currently available for streaming on Netflix.

In the 1980's actor Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) was famous for his time as the titular character Mindhorn, an old detective series where the protagonist could determine if someone was telling the truth using his cybernetic eye. Fast-forward to the present and the police are chasing a somewhat mentally unsettled criminal who has been accused of murder. This Paul Melly (Russell Tovey) eventually states that he is only willing to speak to Detective Mindhorn, not realizing that he's a fictional character.

These days Thorncroft doesn't have a TV career to speak of and only gets buy with ridiculous commercial endorsements here and there. Hearing of the odd situation with Melly, he agrees to return to the Isle of Man and dress up as Mindhorn once more in order to get the man to talk. Unfortunately he retains the arrogance and ego of a once more successful actor, much to the annoyance of the local police. But beyond all this there may be more to Melly's rambling than they first appear and perhaps he really does need a good detective.

What I Liked: I think the first part of the movie wasn't too bad as Barratt's antics as Thorncraft and later Mindhorn are pretty gonzo and he makes for quite the entertaining bumbling actor. All he knows about police work was derived from his old television venture and given the times, it's terribly inaccurate and outright wrong. But that's where a lot of the fun comes from and it does make for good fun.

And I was a little surprised by Russell Tovey being in this project. He doesn't quite get to shine in a glorious manner in this role, but he clearly has fun with it as well. And I will never complain about seeing Russell Tovey in a movie or TV show quite frankly. He's just so adorable. And him portraying this ultimate Mindhorn fanboy complete with a collection of memorabilia really worked for me.

What Could Have Been Better: The ineptitude of Thorncroft is funny at first but gets old fast enough. Yes there are tropes and stereotypes that he needs to play to but the range of things he can do is rather limited and thus feels repetitive pretty quickly. And what becomes redundant can quickly become redundant.

The story as a whole is pretty confusing from the perspective of the writing feeling a little slipshod. They had a decent enough concept to start with but I don't think they quite knew what to do with it or how to expand it into a proper movie. And given how the original Mindhorn concept is that of a detective, the story still needs to make some sense as Mindhorn's ridiculousness needs to have something in contrast to it. And that's where the story falls short.

TL;DR: Mindhorn is a decent attempt at a comedy with satirical references to 80's television but it doesn't quite hit the right notes. Maybe with tighter writing or more of a character to Mindhorn, then things might make more sense. Thus the movie gets a passable 2.5 crazy Mindhorn souvenirs in Melly's collection out of a possible 5.


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