In a world full of silly cinematic ideas, surely Mindhorn has been done before? Washed-up actors forced to come out of retirement because someone believes that said actor’s role is real? Anyone else have Galaxy Quest come to mind? Three Amigos? Tropic Thunder?
But as this film comes from the creators behind The Mighty Boosh, you just know there’s going to be a special little something that makes this film stand out!
25 years ago, Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) starred as a police detective in popular TV show Mindhorn. Filmed on the Isle of Man, alongside his hot female lead (Essie Davis) and his stuntman (Simon Farnaby), Mindhorn would use a bionic eye (don’t ask) to literally see the truth in people’s words.
But today Richard’s a washed up, out of work actor struggling to make ends meet. However, back on the Isle of Man a mentally ill serial killer (Russell Tovey) is on the prowl. Unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy, as well as calling himself The Kestrel, he states the only person he’ll talk to is Police Inspector Mindhorn.
And so, Richard must return to his old stomping grounds and face his greatest acting challenge yet.
Satirising classic 80s TV fare such as The Six Million Dollar Man, Mindhorn’s crowning achievement is in its leading man. Though already known for his comic timing in The Mighty Boosh, Barratt displays an incredible knack for physical comedy and throws himself with unending gusto into every scene.
Surrounding him as a bevy of British stars lending their talents such as Andrea Riseborourgh, David Schofield and Harriet Walker. Additional British talent also make hilarious cameos in the guise of Kenneth Branagh’s hairless wonder and Simon Callow’s schadenfreude leaf muncher.
The plot, while thin and borderline Scooby Doo-esque, doesn’t take itself seriously, instead preferring the silly surrealism of its many nonsensical situations. If anything there’s a whiff of Alan Partridge infusing the proceeds; and made all the more obvious with Steve Coogen’s appearance as Mindhorn’s former assistant.
But the ridiculousness of the situations never threaten to overwhelm the film as, unlike many comedies, Mindhorn goes out of its way to make sure its story has heart. If you were to strip away the comedy and the silliness, what would remain is a sympathetic story about a man trying to come to terms with the mistakes of his past and his attempts to make amends.
At first it may seem that Mindhorn treads ground that has already been well covered on the big screen, but nothing could be further from the truth. While the script isn’t quite as sharp as say, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Mindhorn is still a glorious send-up of old school 80s television.