The film version of the successful, if niche TV series possesses a clever concept, summed-up in the title of my review. Whilst knowledge of the original TV series is certainly a sine qua non, the film itself is not just the burying of the TV series within a cinematic scope. Rather, it is an additional film with a film within a film - one of the guys on the accompanying commentary compares it to a pot noodle.
The cast includes some fine cameos by Bernard Hill, Victoria Wood, Emily Woof, David Warner, and Michael Sheen (as Jeremy Dyson), and you might also spot Simon Pegg and Peter Kay too. Using the same director and composer as the TV series, there are obvious overlaps in style and atmosphere with the TV series, and homages to the writers' favourite films come aplenty. Unfortunately, though, the clever concept becomes less funny and more ridiculous as the film develops, as it tries to deal successfully with the effects of its own cumbersome storyline. It ends in a disappointing mush. However, that being said, when watching the film I counted three outbursts of laughter from myself, twenty-five chuckles, and an uncountable number of smiles - but alas, there were no eye-watering guffaws.
The accompanying commentary from all four writers is, like that to the TV series, of mixed use, since it is difficult to know who is saying what as each tries to dominate the conversation. It was recorded prior to the film's release, so they did not then know if the film had bombed or won an Oscar. Of course, history proved it to be more like the former than the latter. In an article in The Guardian in November 2009, Jeremy Dyson is reported as saying that they were naïve: "Film is capitalism in its brutal form, and it's about how are you going to get an audience. We'd never thought like that before. ... `On the Buses' [the film version of which apparently outsold `Diamonds Are Forever'] was getting 20 million [TV] viewers. A comedy show is now doing well if it gets four or five million." If I had paid to see this film at the cinema I may have felt a little short-changed, but as a cheap DVD, it's not a bad deal, especially as it will be played again and again over the years.
Other extras on the disc include a twelve-minute `Making Of'; a six-minute visit to Hadfield in Derbyshire - `The Real Royston Vasey' (most of the film was shot in Ireland for tax reasons); a four-minute review of `A Cast of Thousands'; a twelve-minute film showing a typical day on shoot with Steve Pemberton; sixteen deleted scenes; out-takes; a gallery; and the usual trailers.