Mackenzie Crook and Johnny Vegas star as the bird-chasing, self-proclaimed "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" of Birmingham in this £3 million brit-com about two lowlifes with active fantasy sex lives who deliver potatoes to various restaurants and grocers. Written by
I saw this at the cinema when it came out and had no idea it had been mauled by the critics. I laughed as much as I ever have done at a film and plenty others there seemed to find it just as funny. There are some great lines in the script and excellent performances from Mark Gatiss, Mackenzie Crook and (in some ways) Johnny Vegas.
The attacks on the film have been ridiculous. It is not smutty. It is not a revival of Carry on or the Confessions series. It has nothing in it for teenage onanists. Every other movie coming out of Hollywood these days spends half its time ogling its stars in lingering close up. Potato Men does not contain a single scene like that, nor was anyone cast as eye candy. Quite the opposite...
It shows a coarse, poor, bleak life in a coarse, bleak, but humorous way and does not try and convince anyone that we are watching the Salt of the Earth. It was probably that element that shocked the reviewers. Well received British movies like The Full Monty and Billy Elliot seem self- conscious about this issue. It is as though we have to be packaged for an imaginary American audience, who might otherwise have us down for horse riding snobs.
I am not claiming it to be a masterpiece. It has some weak elements that can be attributed mainly to the episodic plot and a low budget. There is a review here from trinitybay9 that sums it up very well. There are four sections and the one concerning Tolly is quite poor. There are some excellent comedy performances in the film but Dominic Coleman's is not one of them.
The real shame though is that the director is never likely to make another film. With the honourable exception of Johnny Vegas, even the cast responded gutlessly to the bad press. It is easily the best thing Mackenzie Crook has done since The Office, but he seems to consider it to be, artistically, a black mark on a CV that contains the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
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