Disappointing, but saved by one hilarious scene
from London, UK
, 30 Sep 2005
I have been waiting 4 years to see this film. I first read about it in a double-page spread in the Independent, about a low-budget British movie about a man who has a fetish about 'backdoor passage sexual action' involving spreading Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream around the anus of a Julie Andrews look-a-like, and being visited by a bizarre ensemble of characters - a black Jesus Christ, two Christian skinhead (Chrisskins), a porn star, a French chanteur, and a middle-aged neighbour (Alison Steadman, no less). I had to see this film. But legal actions, or threat of legal actions, prevented its release. Two years later it got a limited release for a couple of weekends but, expecting it to be on for longer, I waited too long and it was off the screen. At least once a month since 2001 I have been checking IMDB to see whether it is being rereleased anywhere. Finally it has had a DVD release in 2005, five years after filming. The anticipation of this film is what has rather spoilt it. Whereas I was, for example, rather pleasantly surprised by a film I was anticipating being a complete and utter turkey (Sex Lives of the Potato Men), I was utterly disappointed that this film (Chunky Monkey) which I had waited so long to see was so mediocre.
The film is unnecessarily violent in parts, the camera work (HD steadicam) was anything but steady, and the incidental score was more akin to a porn film or an episode of Mr Bean. However, the acting on the whole is excellent (except, bizarrely, Alison Steadman who is truly atrocious in this film). Nicola Stapleton as Mandy the female Chrisskin (remember her in EastEnders playing another character called Mandy?) is outstanding, as in Danny Nussbaum, her sidekick. Colin McFarlane - the black guy in the Fast Show - is hilarious as Jesus Christ. David 'Shameless' Threlfall plays the lead. But the reason why this film is worth watching is for the hilarious performance of Stephen 'Green Room' Mangan as French chanteur Pierre. When he breaks off into a song penned by director and writer Greg Cruttwell called 'Love is Everything', and dances with Elizabeth Woodcock (who plays porn star Gaynor, fiancée to Frank who is played by David Scholfield - he of 'The Bill', 'Holby City' and the Johnny Depp film 'From Hell') - that dance is inspired. It made me crack up laughing. And no miming either.
You get four more of Pierre's songs among the enjoyable hidden extras too, filmed somewhere near Hampstead Heath by the looks of it (a shame the videos are a bit similar to one another). Also in the extras are a couple of deleted scenes (one, about a fish seller, should have been kept in I feel), an interview between writer and director Greg Crutwell and producer Phil Hunt, and a really excellent short about two die-hard Fulham fans who are celebrating Fulham's premiership status in 2001. This latter 10-minute short is outstandingly funny and is another reason to rent this movie.
The film itself though is certainly not worth more than two stars.
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