Mindhorn (2017) Review

Director: Sean Foley

Run Time: 89 minutes

Cast: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Simon Farnaby, Russell Tovey, Steve Coogan, Kenneth Branagh, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): A has-been actor best known for playing the title character in the 1980s detective series “Mindhorn” must work with the police when a serial killer says that he will only speak with detective Mindhorn, whom he believes to be a real person.

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Mindhorn represents the first time Sean Foley has directed a feature film, given a script from The Mighty Boosh alumni Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, he couldn’t have had an easier ride. Mindhorn is a charming, funny film that anyone can enjoy.

While the subject matter may seem a little dark, the film is anything but. Mindhorn is full of the zaniness and Barratt’s signature humour from his Might Boosh days. While Noel Fielding’s art is never present (a cameo from the guy would have been genius, imagine that), it makes for a more grounded piece than perhaps one would naturally expect from the minds of Barratt and Farnaby. Indeed, there are several tender moments that play out across the film. We feel sorry for Richard Thorncroft’s (Julian Barratt) situation, despite it all being self-inflicted by his enlarged ego.

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Although primarily about a murder case in which Thorncroft must aid the police whilst in character as Mindhorn, this is a film about a man making up for past mistakes. We see that he thinks he is the best in the business right from the start. His career stalls completely after Mindhorn however, upon trying to break Hollywood, whilst the career of his rival Peter Eastman (Steve Coogan) boomed after the show ended with the success of Mindhorn spin-off, Windjammer, now in its 13th series. Thorncroft should never have left the Isle of Man, he shouldn’t have let his success get to him in the first place.

There are plenty of revelations for Thorncroft in this tale of one man’s failed career, but there’s a lot to laugh about along the way. The terrible adverts he’s been in, his incompetence in helping the police investigation (in a vain attempt to rekindle his career) and plenty of laughs come just from him trying to be Mindhorn once again, 25 years after the show came to an end. I found the film to be very similar in terms of theme and sense of humour to Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, and this is no bad thing in the slightest. Mindhorn leans a little heavier on zaniness than Alpha Papa, however, including a brilliant use of slow-motion towards the end that still has me in stitches. Fans of the Boosh should have plenty to laugh about, but the more grounded nature of the film ensures that anyone should get a kick out of it.

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Acting was never Barratt’s strong point, but this is used to hilarious effect in Mindhorn. What we see of the original television programme is ace, with bad double filming, cheesy one-liners and “fantastic” special effects. Barratt is in his element playing both the failed actor and the cheesy character of Mindhorn. No one puts in a particularly commendable performance, but it all works for the film. It’s not meant to be taken seriously at all. There is a good zip to the delivery, however, and the jokes come thick and fast from all involved – all of whom look as if they had a great time filming. You’ll have just as great a time watching Mindhorn. It’s a very good British comedy.


Another strong outing for British comedy on the big screen.


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