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By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2019 03:58PM

My Father

Directed by Lewis Clements


Elsy Pictures

Written and directed by Birmingham director Lewis Clements, My Father is a new short film about fathers and family but doesn’t forget to have a whole lot of fun along the way.

Veering away from the very different dramatic tone of his previous film Eviction (review here) My Father takes a less-than-serious look at a father finding out about his past during a very eclectic adventure.

The short opens when a man is alerted by the beeping noises of a handheld game console and enters his son’s room where he finds the young boy awake in his bed. As his dad asks him to turn it off ready for school the next day, the boy asks if he can hear a story before going to sleep.

Parodying somewhat The Princess Bride (which is framed around an adult recounting a tale to a child) the film throws in some funny moments from the start which get more surreal as we go along.

From a mention of “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” to what looks like a blatant ginger wig (sorry, if it isn’t) the film jumps between different comedy styles to tell its amusing anecdote.

Our protagonist is Tarik who tells his son how he used to work as a cleaner at a kitchen and bathroom store. He sadly gets fired from his job and returns to his own father who consoles him but admits he isn’t his real dad – which, given the context, is somewhat of an understatement.

This flashback also slyly references Family Fortunes, Lionel Richie and shows a rather gratuitous shot of a cock. And I’m not talking male chicken here!

And so Tarik discovers he was picked up at a Tamworth theme park. And his “father” tells him about “The Barrington” – a mysterious character who may hold the key to who his biological father is, as he apparently has the Drayton Manor entrance list from 2003.

This nice nod to a local landmark is combined with some very surreal comedy as we next see a senior citizen in a leather clad outfit along with a gimp “pet” who then challenges Tarik to a contest involving a Pot Noodle!

Whether or not you go along with the short’s comedic style, Varakunan Panchalingam is without doubt absolutely fantastic as Tarik. And the film uses innuendo, sight gags and Tarik's delivery of silly lines of dialogue to give us a variety of funny situations and ridiculous scenarios.

The support cast go from solid to over-the-top and that’s probably intentional – but to be fair we’re not here for any Oscar winning performances. My Father knows what it wants to be and has some genuine laugh out loud moments.

As his search grinds to a bit of a halt, Tarik heads to a church as his farcical journey comes to a conclusion. But does the film, and Tarik’s story, give us a happy-ever-after ending? Well kind of, but it definitely teases the potential of a sequel.

In the end though, My Father provides plenty of hilarity and humour and whilst the cinematography and technical side could do with some tweaking, the real joy lies in lots of laughs provided throughout.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 14 2016 11:01PM

Keanu (2016) Dir. Peter Atencio

This new action comedy film involving a gangland rivalry and a ridiculously cute kitten called Keanu is one of the stranger concepts to have been green-lit for 2016. Starring Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key (two US comedians with their own sketch show, who have barely been heard of in the UK) Keanu is a hilarious piece of fluff and has the honour of being one of the first ‘pure’ comedies of the year to genuinely make me laugh. And on many occasions.

The story follows Rell (Peele) who has just been dumped by his girlfriend and finds a cat on his doorstep who he adopts and names Keanu. Rell's cousin Clarence (Key) takes him out to cheer him up but they return to find his house ransacked and the kitten missing. Believing a gang mistook his house for his drug-dealing neighbour, Rell heads to the gang’s hideout with Clarence in tow and here they are mistaken for the violent Allentown boys – a duo with a sadistic reputation. Going along with this case of mistaken identity (they rename themselves "Tectonic" and "Shark Tank") the film spins off into a series of ever-deeper cross-wired scenes as they get further out of their depth.

In their efforts to get Keanu back, most of the film’s comedy stems from the suburban duo’s attempts at being “gangstas” and although it could have been a simple role-reversal set up, the supporting characters of gang leader Cheddar (played well by Method Man) and feisty Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish) throw in added conflict as they argue, fight and clash on the city streets.

The comedy rarely plays it safe – and I don’t mean the gross-out angle of the Frat pack/Apatow crowd – with cleverly written and inventive scenes involving team-building exercises and the music of George Michael. As Keanu flips between owners (re-named ‘Iglesias’ and ‘New Jack’ at points) the film uses its skit-based formula well to get in plenty of jokes on the journey. Some added action, a comical car chase and Keanu’s cuteness all keep the fish-out-of-water concept fresh and if we’re going on solid laughs, this could be the best comedy of the year so far.

Made with a lot of sincerity, and although it takes few narrative risks, the comedy duo take plenty of content risks by avoiding the clichés of modern US comedies and surround themselves with a supporting cast who play their mostly-straight roles well.

My favourite comedies over the last few years have rarely originated from the USA with their focus on “improv” and poor scripts/cinematography (see Edgar Wright for how to give comedy more cinematic “zing”) but this film is filled with affection and I couldn’t but help warm to that.

Like The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, it seems the best traditional American comedies are the ones with the most heart and Keanu has plenty of that making its silly premise a winner in all the best ways.


Midlands Movies Mike

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