movie film review | chris tookey

Sex Lives of the Potato Men

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  Sex Lives of the Potato Men Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
1.10 /10
Johnny Vegas , Mackenzie Crook , Mark Gatiss
Full Cast >

Directed by: Andy Humphries
Written by: Andy Humphries

Released: 2004
Genre: WORST
Origin: GB
Colour: C
Length: 82

Sex Lives of the Potato Men is billed as an "erotic, testosterone-charged comedy" about a pair of Brummie yobs called Dave and Ferris, who are according to the publicity notes "two good-looking young blokes living by their own rules". The truth is that they live by no rules discernible to the naked eye, and one of these "good-looking blokes" is played by arguably the ugliest, most obese and least sexy comedian in Britain, Johnny Vegas (pictured right).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Never before have I knowingly recommended a film with no redeeming factor whatsoever, but here goes. I honestly believe that every existing or aspiring politician, religious or spiritual leader in Britain - and, indeed, anyone with a serious interest in what is happening to the culture of our country - should see this movie.

Watch it all the way through its 82 miserable minutes, and I guarantee you'll be shaking your head and asking "Have we really descended to this?" Yes, we have. If ever a movie testified to the utter cynicism, tastelessness and moral corruption of those who commission and make British movies, it is this abomination.

First-time writer-director Andy Humphries' film is no isolated example, but it is the most shamefully inept, witless and repulsive British comedy I have ever had the misfortune to see. And yes, I do remember Guest House Paradiso.

Johnny Vegas starred in one of the most wretched comedies of 2003, Blackball, but that was a masterpiece of subtlety compared to this. This sex comedy is so sordid, unfunny and malodorous, it makes Confessions of a Window Cleaner look like The Importance of Being Earnest. Aimed squarely at oafs with unwashed underwear, filthy minds and knuckles that graze the pavement when they walk, it is enough to put sensitive viewers off sex and films for life.

Vegas's equally unfunny sidekick is Mackenzie Crook (pictured left) from The Office, who is meant to be God's gift to women, but exhibits slightly less erotic appeal than road kill. Both men play mindlessly aggressive, sex-obsessed slobs, and their two fellow workers at a potato distribution depot (Mark Gatiss and Dominic Coleman) are even creepier - voyeurs, perverts, stalkers, sociopaths. The film is a merely a catalogue of their sexual adventures, every one of them too mean, cruel and offensive to be describable in a family newspaper.

The sex here is disgusting to the eye and mind, demeaning to actors and audience alike - and not even faintly amusing. There are copious lashings of sado-masochism, fetishism and self-abuse, and pervading the whole thing a joyless, debased view of human relationships that might make the most priapic Club 18 to 30 Rep contemplate a life of monastic celibacy.

There are numerous sights here that I shall, unfortunately, carry with me to the grave. Among the few describable low points is a scene where Vegas tells a small boy that his dad is dead and his mum in a coma, followed by a hospital scene where Vegas ogles and rummages around in the comatose mother's cleavage in front of the child. The rest of it is far, far nastier.

I imagine that this film was meant to shock, and shock it certainly does. I'm bewildered, appalled and angry that anyone allowed this puerile idiocy to become such an abominable waste of time and celluloid.

For sheer gross-out pointlessness, there has been nothing to match this since Tom Green's contemptible Freddy Got Fingered. Though the makers of Potato Men will doubtless claim that their approach to their heroes is post-modernist and ironic, it's noticeable that their advertising campaign is aimed not at sophisticates, but at the ever-spreading bottom of the market.

It's been designed to appeal to the sort of people who might actually see these characters as role models. And if this really does reflect, or influence, how sex is regarded by the lumpen proletariat in 21st century Britain, there is no hope for us.

Amazingly, this perniciously anti-social garbage received ?35,000 from the UK Film Council for development of its so-called script, and a further ?904,388 towards its ?3 million budget, which implies distressingly that someone important must have read the screenplay and considered it adequate.

Even more depressingly, its executive producer is one Robert Jones, who as head of the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund is responsible for handing out a budget of ?30 million of Lottery money over the next three years.

To have invested as much as 10p in such a film, and then have oneself "credited" as executive producer, shows a lack of taste and judgment that is truly horrifying. The only reason executives got away with this kind of tripe in the past is that no one in authority ever bothered to see what they were trying to foist on the public.

Well, enough is enough. Jones's superiors, including Film Council chief Sir Alan Parker, should make a point of putting themselves through the ordeal of seeing this. If they do, there can surely be only one conclusion: Jones must go, and go now.

Whoever is responsible at Entertainment for distributing this and the equally offensive British gangster film Charlie should also find occupations where they can inflict no further damage on the public.

The revival of British Cinema was supposed to be at the forefront of Tony Blair's repackaging of Britain. But, as with the Millennium Dome, the glossy image so artfully manufactured is now peeling away to reveal the waste and ugliness beneath. Behind the glittering facade of the BAFTA Awards is a clique-ridden, celebrity-driven, yob culture, of which Sex Lives of the Potato Men is the latest, and vilest, example.

When New Labour came to power, we were promised a revival in British cinema, swept to new heights of artistic and commercial success by millions in Lottery funding. But instead of more cinema we could be proud to call British, we're getting more and more brutish cinema, like the currently released Charlie, a hideous glorification of Sixties gangland torturer Charlie Richardson.

We were promised Cool Britannia. But we find ourselves in Cruel Britannia, a new national culture of instant self-gratification, yobbishness and sadism.

“Public money is for everyone, and that includes people who want to get drunk and see a filthy movie as much as those who want to watch a Japanese movie. If we knew what the audience wanted we would be millionaires by now. This film is for a very specific demographic - a young male audience which may not be critic-led.”

(Spokesman for UK Film Council)

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