Julian Barratt from The Mighty Boosh is inexhaustibly great as a past-it actor-cum-detective
It’s very rare that a film can sustain silliness over feature length. Usually, a silly idea will run out of steam and become stupid. Stupid is rarely funny for anyone other than those on-screen. For the vast majority of its running time, Mindhorn is brilliantly silly. It’s Alan Partridge spliced with The Wicker Man, then bunged through a mincer with The League Of Gentlemen.
Mindhorn’s star is Julian Barratt, most famous for The Mighty Boosh, a surreal comedy series that frequently flirted with stupid. Here, he plays Richard Thorncroft, an actor who gained brief notoriety as the star of Mindhorn, a detective show with all the glamour and production-value of an NHS training video, in which he solves crimes with the aid of his bionic ‘truth-seeing eye’. Years later, he’s clinging to his meagre past glories like a post-tumble-dry sock to a pair of nylon slacks. Balding and paunchy, he’s virtually unemployable yet still diva-ish. A career resurrection looks possible, in his eyes at least, when he’s recruited by the Isle of Man police. A suspected serial killer is convinced that Mindhorn is real and will only speak to him. Thorncroft grabs his best toupée and sets off to reclaim his glory days (which only he thought he ever had).
Barratt is inexhaustible as Thorncroft, perfectly hitting the mark between pomposity and tragedy. Thorncroft only works if, despite his self-aggrandisement and delusion, you feel sympathy for him. That’s always the case as he clatters pathetically through publicity stunts and tries to seduce his ex-girlfriend (Essie Davis). There are plenty of big, hearty jokes, which Barratt lands with light feet, but even as the daftness of the conceit feels the strain – any concept this ludicrous will lose its novelty after a while – his commitment to it never falters. Mindhorn deserves much more than fleeting fame.
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Director: Sean Foley