Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Light-weight but fun.
on 2 March 2009
I saw Learners when it was first broadcast, and liked it but not enough to buy it till the price had dropped a bit.
On second viewing it was better than I remembered. There are some great comedy moments, some touching scenes, and it is a good cast with no real weak links even down to the really rather small roles of the driving school's other learners and Bev's workmates. ("Ukrainian Ivana" is fantastic!)
I was especially impressed with the two children: good performances from these two youngsters.
Anyone who has seen David Tennant in anything else will not be at all surprised to learn that he plays geeky-but-cute driving instructor ably, with his usual wonderful comic timing and also his ability to convey compassion, pathos and sadness seemingly at will.
Hynes is sometimes a touch shrill but often very funny as multi-failing learner driver Bev. This is not maybe quite as convincing a performance or writing as she has produced elsewhere (notably in Spaced with Simon Pegg); it's above average, just not quite to her usual high standards. She does have some lovely moments, both comic and serious, and she pulls off several scenes that are very important to her character with aplomb.
Shaun Dingwell is also good as her longsuffering husband, though his character seems to flip between a sympathetic man who we pity and a bit of a good for nothing grumbler who shouts at his wife for being no good at driving. Realistic to a certain extent, but the two sides of this role never really mesh; a common problem with several of the characters.
The script is a little uneven, and I think many of the rough edges are due to this. I would agree with a previous reviewer who remarked that it doesn't know what it wants to be - drama, comedy, love story, what? Some films manage to pull all these different genres off in one package, Learners never really manages it. It's funny, sweet, mostly quite light-hearted, with some good performances, and is certainly nice feel-good, above average telly, but it can't quite pull itself up into excellent.
The DVD is very plain and simple (the disc doesn't even have the right rating on it, or did I get a duff one?), with scene selection and optional subtitles. Great picture and sound, but it does seem an opportunity missed - am I the only one who longs for a set of bloopers and unintended improvs from this great comic cast? That alone would have been worth the purchase price!
Don't expect brilliance; overall, though, it's very enjoyable fluff, which I am sure I will watch again whenever I need a bit of feelgood comedy. Well worth a fiver, and 4 stars for a brilliant cast and a good if flawed script.