A past-it, washed-up, has-been actor is plucked from midlife obscurity to assist the police in capturing a suspected killer who mistakenly believes the fictional 80s TV character Mindhorn is a real person. Richard Thorncroft makes his way back to the Isle of Man to revitalise his career, relive past glories and rekindle an old flame while trying to get to the truth behind the murder.
While the fictional show comes across like Bergerac by way of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, the life and times of the elder Richard Thorncroft are more akin to Alan Partridge, with the well-worn plot taking strides in the Alpha Papa’s shoes. Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby’s creation makes for a compelling character. Thorncroft’s delusions of grandeur and complete lack of cool make him an endearing idiot. The kind of idiot you’re happy to get whisked away with for 90 minutes as he bungles his way around the Isle of Man, swept up in the funk of his own hype.
Barrat’s physicality is only matched by his ability to throw quips like a comedic ninja as he utterly sells the titular role to hilarious ends. Simon Farnaby’s turn as Thorncroft’s Dutch ex-stuntman-turned-foil is part Goldmember, part pillock but all laughs, with the likes of Essie Davis, Russell Tovey and Andrea Riseborough rounding out the sturdy gaggle of islanders. Perhaps casting Steve Coogan as Thorncroft’s far more successful, former co-star was a little too on the nose but his inclusion allows for some great snips concerning British telly actors and the lure of Hollywood.
Overall, Mindhorn delivers some brilliant performances, quote-worthy scenes and a heavy dose of silliness despite a plot that feels overly familiar. To use a TV term, this felt more like a pilot to a revival series than a fully-fledged movie. In fact, I’d love to see the further adventures of Richard Thorncroft and Mindhorn on the small screen. This character should totally be a thing, action-doll, lunch boxes and all. One can only wish for a sequel with John Nettles as a Manx Cat stroking baddie.
Mindhorn is released on May 5th
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