Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie

Directed by: Ben Kellett

Produced by: Stephen McCrum
Brendan O'Carroll

Screenplay by: Brendan O'Carroll

Based on: Mrs. Brown's Boys by Brendan O'Carroll

Starring: Brendan O'Carroll
Eilish O'Carroll
Nick Nevern
Paddy Houlihan
Fiona O'Carroll
Jennifer Gibney
Sorcha Cusack
Keith Duffy
Danny O'Carroll
Amanda Woods
Chris Patrick-Simpson
Robert Bathurst
Dermot Crowley
Gary Hollywood

Music by: Andy O'Callaghan

Cinematography by: Martin Hawkins

Editing by: Mark Lawrence

Studio(s): That's Nice Films
Penalty Kick Films
BBC Films

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release date(s): June 27, 2014 (United Kingdom & Ireland)

Running time: 94 minutes

Country(s): Ireland
United Kingdom

Language: English

Production budget: £3.6 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): £13, 263, 304

Rightio, so, for a change I've actually been able to keep to my promises and see all of the big movies at the box-office that I said I would, so be expecting reviews coming in for both the new Transformers and Planet Of The Apes movies. Seeing the latter was a nice piece of happenstance, as the Northern Ireland release date for Richard Linklater's Boyhood was pushed back a week, so I got to see that yesterday at the Odyssey. Also, seeing as how I haven't got to see to much recently, I'm going to try and get at least one more in (probably Maleficent) to fill out the month. So, for all the latest and greatest regarding the movies, keep your eyes posted!

Up for review here is Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie. For those of you who don't know (and there's a chance you mightn't, seeing as Mrs. Brown is very much a regional comedic act), the television sitcom Mrs. Brown's Boys, despite negative response from critics, is a big success in the ratings, drawing huge numbers in both Ireland (where it is based and produced) and throughout the United Kingdom. My own personal experiences of the Mrs. Brown phenomenon is having worked a run of live performances by Brendan O'Carroll's troupe of actors largely consisting of relatives and friends at the Odyssey Arena, and yes, while I was working, I'll admit to finding it slightly humorous. So, Agnes Brown's adventure to the big screen is the natural progression to be expected, right? The critical response was overwhelmingly negative, even more so than the TV show, and yet it topped the UK box-office for two weeks, grossed over £20 million off of it's £3.6 million budget. It took Transformers: Age Of Extinction to knock this off the number one spot, that's how popular this foul-mouthed old woman from Dublin, played by a man in drag no less, is over here! Originally, I was meant to see it with my work colleagues, but my end of it didn't materialise unfortunately (working the next festival with them, I was told "all the funny bits are in the trailer," which ain't no glowing recommendation), and then I tried to arrange something with my good friend at Danland Movies, who made a steadfast refusal to go on account of the TV show, saying "I have a high threshold for bullshit," but ninety minutes of Mrs. Brown would be too much. So, on my lonesome I went to see Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie, plot synopsis please!: Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll) runs a fruit and vegetable stall down in Dublin's Moore Street market, and when she is sent an unpaid tax bill for ninety-six Irish pounds (the 'punt' as it used to be known in Irish down South) left by her grandmother, which, she is reliably informed has inflated to the sum of €3.8 million. With this tax bill hanging over her, and threat coming in the form of P.R. Irwin (Dermot Crowley), an MP, his Russian business associate and his hired goons, will Mrs. Brown and the whole gang from the TV series be able to raise the money or find some way to eradicate her tax bill and ensure that she can keep her stall? Let's see!

I just want to make it clear right from the bat that this is abominably stupid humour that is shades of a non-satirical When The Whistle Blows from Extras. However, while I don't think this is by any means a great movie, or even a half-ways decent movie, there are things that I enjoyed about it. Maybe it's because my own personal threshold for stupidity includes ultra-violent borderline homo-erotic 80s action movies and a penchant for finding humour in old woman. After all, the misadventures of Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances ranks among my favourite television series, and I always seem to latch onto these characters like Edith Evans' Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of Being Earnest, so the fact that I find a semblance of humour in Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie isn't too much of a stretch. Bernice Harrison of The Irish Times said regarding the series that "the whole thing is entirely predicated on viewers finding a man dressed as a foul-mouthed elderly woman intrinsically funny:" well, call me an idiot, for while I don't count myself among the show's viewership, I do find that funny. Brendan O'Carroll's Agnes Brown is an amusing character, and thankfully they manage to retain that and ensure that the character itself at least is done justice. O'Carroll seems be at his strongest, both from an acting and writing standpoint, when surrounded by his fictional and real-life family and friends. I must admit to finding myself slightly amused at certain parts in the movie, most of them involving Mrs. Brown and her antics, which probably says as much about me as it does the movie. At risk of making myself sound like I'm clutching for straws, I've thought about recently what makes a really bad movie, what makes it go from being a bad movie to a hideous, a repugnant movie, and at least where my barometer is concerned, I believe that I have to feel an active hostility, the work in question bringing to mind emotions of venom. For instance, I saw Tammy there, and while it sucks, I couldn't get actively angry, and even though I know Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie is terrible, the same could be said, but more so, that I found it vaguely amusing is a plus in it's favour.

That said, it isn't enough of a plus in the movie's favour, because, as the old saying goes, "you can put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig." While I could perhaps watch Mrs. Brown's Boys in digestible (relatively speaking) twenty-thirty minute chunks, at ninety minutes this at times does get thoroughly nauseating. It's not because of issues with Mrs. Brown's Boys by default, but because frankly Brendan O'Carroll does not have enough or appropriate material to make a half-ways decent feature-length film. The central premise, which ends up involving the gang trying to smuggle Mrs. Brown's grandmother's tax payment receipt out of a public records office because of various mis-happenings (including an even older woman getting hit by a bus, a receptionist who won't get off her telephone headset thingimijig and Buster and Dermy making arses of themselves), is so wafer thin that even if it was edible it'd hard to imagine that anything of substance went down your throat. Also, although O'Carroll is obviously trying to make it bigger (after all, "this is D'Movie," as Mrs. Brown is wont to say), the inclusion of these new characters and trying to make them fit the story is horrible. I'm not even going to get stuck into the racial implications behind Mr. Wang, a character so stupid that it'd be too great a service to even get offended by it (same can be said for the Indian man who everyone thinks is Jamaican), but the primary heavy villains, a group of Russian mobsters, are completely without any semblance of tension and bring absolutely nothing to the table. I'm sorry, but when you can't hit a target as inconspicuous as Mrs. Brown and then stand there continuing to shoot your empty gun about five or six times with your hair slicked back and a mug like a podgy Kurt Russell, you ain't going to convince me that you're a figure worthy of any level of intimidation. Furthermore, Cathy, the character of Jennifer Gibney (O'Carroll's real-life wife) has one of the most wince-inducing 'inspirational speeches' I've seen in a good bit. I would say it was worse than God Is Dead, but the fact is is that God Is Dead consisted largely of speeches being spewed out at me, and in this case, however banal, there was at least only one. It'll be on YouTube at some point no doubt, but look up the title of this movie with 'Cathy's Speech' or 'This Is Dubin' and try not to grimace. G'wan, I dare you! Also, while there a number of other things wrong with this, the other major problem is that it sounds like shite, to be frank. I don't know if that's down to the same crew on the TV show not being used to location shooting as opposed to a sound stage before a live audience, but some of the stuff with mic's is like Lina Lamont in Singin' In The Rain. There's an outdoor scene with a discussion between the two main antagonists in what seems to be a landfill, and you can't hear most of the conversation behind them because there's a lorry driving slowly past behind them. Also, the editing done indoors has the sound either floating off into the space of the room, becoming inaudible through gradually descending volume or bouncing off the walls like they're an echo chamber. NEWS FLASH, to the live sound crew, there's a thing called directional microphones and appropriating figuring out acoustics, to the sound/editing suite, it's called equalisation. 

What save Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie from being an absolute stinker in my eyes is because I think it is one of those movies that does have be taken with a pinch of salt. Don't get me wrong, it is utter stupidity in the highest order, but I'd be a liar if I didn't laugh a bit throughout the thing at the happenings of the central character. If that makes me one of those idiots who finds "a foul-mouthed elderly woman intrinsically funny," then so be it. However, don't let it be forgotten that this is still for all intents and purposes a pile of cack. Twenty-thirty minutes at a time of Agnes Brown is enough, because unlike the stage show O'Carroll has not written enough plot to string together a half-ways decent movie, along with new characters that are just filler and bring nothing to the table either from the side of dramatic tension or that of humour. Also, the movie sounds horrendous, with conversations outdoors being obscured by activity going on in the background and indoors jostling between sounding like echo chambers and limitless voids into the abyss. I would personally pay to see (or sacrifice an arm and a leg in some alchemical experiment gone wrong?) what the late Alan Splet could have done with this sound-wise, an experiment which would have been more interesting than the movie in itself. I can't get actively hostile here, but it's still a pile of poop.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.1/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Busy (tight schedule next day or two)

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