DIRECTED BY Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
STARRING Christian Cooke, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes
Reading, the ’70s: three teenage boys yearn to escape “the town the swinging ’60s forgot” and discover girls, thrills and purpose.
To do this, they must rail against fusty authority. They must also, apparently, indulge in much schoolboy humour about flatulence while speaking in the precise cadences of the film’s authors.
This is a passable, mildly diverting, coming-of-age Brit-flick. Coming from the Gervais/Merchant stable though, it’s a frustrating let-down after past successes.
If the intention was to subvert the grotty feel of UK ’70s comedy, too often the “ironic” racism and sexism – jokes about “poofs”, black people described as “monkeys” – feel awkward and shaky.
Gervais and Merchant’s great achievements previously have been the result of a delicate balance of laughs and pathos – a trick that this project pulls off only fleetingly.
Opens April 14 , Cert tbc, 95 mins