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Based on the true story about the famous murderers, 'Burke And Hare' follows the hapless exploits of these two men as they fall into the highly profitable business of providing cadavers for the medical fraternity in Nineteenth Century Edinburgh, then the centre of medical learning. The one thing they were short of was bodies. Written by
Among many cultural and historical jokes interwoven in the plot, one occurs when Professor Munro says to Dr. Lister, "your breath is appalling." Although the timeline is somewhat off, with Lister being of a later generation than that portrayed during the events of the film, he was nonetheless the pioneer of using carbolic acid for the sterilization of surgical instruments and cleaning of wounds during the 1860s. This effectively revolutionized surgery and saved the lives of countless patients who would otherwise have died of infection or had to have limbs amputated due to gangrene. He is also who the famous anti-septic mouthwash product Listerine is named after, hence the ironic joke about his breath being appalling. See more »
When Burke and Hare stop for a drink and Burke says that they have no money, Hare plucks a half-crown from underneath Burke's cap. The half-crown that is used in the film is from 1902 - 1910 which is nearly 100 years after the film is set. See more »
Has its hit and miss moments, but mostly entertaining
Burke and Hare is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not a bad film either or completely deserving of all the panning it got. It is far from talented director John Landis's best film not like Blues Brothers or An American Werewolf in London, but it is not his worst either as is the case with Blues Brothers 2000 and Beverly Hills Cop III.
Does Burke and Hare completely work? No it doesn't. Is it entertaining? On the most part yes, even with the hits and misses. The film to me was never laugh-out-loud hilarious excepting two or three scenes(Jessica Hynes's eureka moment inventing funeral parlours being one), most of the time it was still amusing. In my view, the sight gags were better than the script. The sight gags range from nicely understated such as the pot shots at Wordsworth, Lister and Greyfriars Bobby to crass slapstick such as chamber pot contents being dropped on heads. There is even a sex scene that raised a laugh, decide for yourself whether it is intentional or not, whether it was or not I personally did find it amusing. The script(the smart black humour kind) varies as well from having a good chuckle, raising a smile to where I found myself rather blank faced.
John Landis does do a credible job directing. He mixes contemporary innovation and social issue with ease, and although he doesn't quite make Burke and Hare the dark, smart, hilarious homage to Ealing comedy it strived to be or the throwback to American Werewolf(the comedy and horror elements are decent on their own but have mixed results together), there is evidence of the effort which is what mattered. The character development is very straight forward, that I do agree with, but the cast do make an effort to make us empathise with them, and I think they succeeded there. The Georgian setting is also convincing, the sets are beautifully evoked and I quite liked the costumes and cinematography too.
I do think all the cast have done better before, but I cannot deny this is a great cast. Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are a well-matched double act. They work very well together, and both give entertaining performances in the process. I also liked seeing Christopher Lee, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Whitehouse(the scene where he is pushed down the stairs is hilarious) and Bill Bailey even if their appearances are rather brief. Isla Fisher(the love story between her and Pegg though is pretty weak and underdeveloped) and Jessica Hynes are alluring and do show at least some flair for comedy, Hynes actually is very funny, and while they should have had more screen time Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry are suitably antagonistic and compelling. I do agree about the accents being variable, I had little problem with Pegg and Serkis and Wilkinson's was convincing, Curry just about passes, while Fisher's comes and goes and some of the cameos don't quite make it.
In conclusion, entertaining enough if somewhat hit-and-miss. With a longer length, perhaps more tighter pacing and some more care on the accents it could have been more. But the direction, setting and cast convinced me, so I enjoyed it. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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