Thursday, December 29, 2005

I thought: 'Funny'...

Haven't watched very much television this Christmas - except for the inevitable Simpsons-a-thons, which will no doubt send me out onto the streets a pie-eyed, carnage-causing drink-driver - but I did see the repeat of last year's Not Only But Always, the drama-doc about Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Rhys Ifans and Aidan McArdle were excellent in the lead roles, it's true - Ifans looked uncannily like Cook, especially the glassy-eyed, superior stare and the all-conquering drawl.
But I was a little disappointed, even more so on second viewing, by how unconvincing - and, indeed, pointless - the brief reconstructions of sketches were. And especially how, for two such brilliantly hilarious people, Terry Johnson's screenplay paid very little attention to their humour, much more on angsty soap operatics: oh-so-predictable crackerjack cliches about Cook the bitter'n'twisted, wasted talent; Moore the safe, soft, sell-out 'straight man'. All entirely unworthy of them both.
Frankly, the film got off to a bad start with the scene showing a drunken Cook, in his final years, calling an early-hours LBC phone-in show as 'Sven from Swiss Cottage', and sounding not witty and satirical but dull, embarrassing and sad - and the radio host awkwardly treating him as such.
Not true at all. 'Sven from Swiss Cottage' was a superbly sharp creation and improvisation, expertly played and downplayed by Cook, with his despairing references to his lost wife Yuta, his attempts to woo Ingeborg from the dry cleaner's, and how big-screen footage about fishing helps curb football hooliganism in Norway.
So the film, beautifully-shot and acted though it is, played a more helpful role by sending me back to my Pete'n'Dud recordings.
'Cos they give me the 'orn...

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