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Half-way through his 12-year prison sentence for an incompetent armed robbery, Jimmy Hands gets a lucky break: he's transferred to a prison from which he can probably escape. He convinces the governor to stage a musical in an old chapel next to the prison's outer wall. He rounds up volunteer actors and puts his escape plan into production. Two other barriers, besides the wall, confront him: the arrival of a nasty inmate, John Toombes, who insists on joining the escape, and Jimmy's feelings of attraction for Anabel, a social worker who agrees to appear in the play. Opening night approaches: is this Jimmy's breakout performance? Written by
After passing on The Full Monty in favour of Brassed Off, the now all-but defunct Film Four were quick to throw money at Peter Cattaneo's next comedy and confidently launched a huge marketing campaign for Lucky Break secure in the knowledge that they had the big local hit of the year. Subsequent excuses for the film's disastrous performance at the box-office varied from good weather putting people off going to the cinema to the revelation that the screenwriter had done time for IRA offences (subsequently overturned, but still about as endearing to the British public as Al Qaeda are to Americans). For some reason no-one mentioned the fact that it's not any good. At all.
A grab-bag of second-hand ideas from Two-Way Stretch, The Tall Guy and others, it's a laugh-free zone that goes out of its way to avoid surprises while failing to ever find its own tone, nodding to half-baked attempts realism and wildly underdeveloped comedy without ever committing to either. Even the tried-and-trusted routines don't work here: Bill Nighy is just irritating as he tries to splutter some life into unfunny dialogue while Timothy Spall does his dishevelled hamster shtick yet again, while the amateur musical used as a backdrop for the planned prison break seems simply amateurish and unfunny. Quite dreadful.
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