The Comic Strip Presents
Betrayed by Peter Mandelson (Nigel Planer). Laughed at by the Russians. Cohersed by Bill Clinton. And it is pretty safe to say that British Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Stephen Mangan), is in very deep sh*t when Inspector Hutton (Robbie Coltrane) comes knocking at his door, for answers about the numerous crimes he has committed against society, as well as his role in the Iraq war.
Now, because of this strange turn of events, in haste, Tony leaves his wife, Cherie (Catherine Shepherd) behind in
Street, and then tries his best to evade the authorities any which
way he can. Firstly, Tony attempts to make a few phone calls to sort out this
mess – but this does not work, because no one wants to help him. Next, Tony
takes haven in a theater – but this does not work either, because the
clairvoyant within this lo-cal, Professor Predictor (Rik Mayall), mysteriously
dies on stage. So finally, Tony makes the decision to travel outside of
– by train – and seek hallowed ground within a familiar territory. London
However, this does not work also! Because whomever Tony meets to shield him from the police – such as Carole Caplin (Morgana Robinson) or Margaret Thatcher (Jennifer Saunders) – they want to do to him, what he did to
Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, Tony reminisces about how he got himself into this predicament to begin with: The lies – the underhanded ploys – how Alastair Campbell (Harry Enfield) called his wife a ‘silly b*tch’ – plus Gordon Browns’ (Ford Kiernan) distain towards his rise to power.
Eventually, though, Tony stops reminiscing, and finds himself back in
of which leads Tony into a chain of events that make clairvoyants reappear –
Scotchmen know no fear – Inspectors frown at King Lear – and Prime Ministers
dive off of a pier. London
Not the end – and not the beginning of the end – but the end of a beginning...
Now for those of you not in the know, before the eighties
sit-com ‘The Young Ones’, there was the late night comedy farce called ‘The
Comic Strip Presents’. In essence, this satirical program took popular culture by
both hands, perverted it, and then made it funny. For example, ‘The Comic Strip
Presents: Five Go Mad in Dorset’, was a ‘p*ss take’ out
of Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series of children’s storeys – or ‘The Comic
Strip Presents: A Fistful of Travellers' Cheques’, was an earthy and heightened
homage to Sergio Leone's ‘Dollars Trilogy’. Moreover, each week, this program
provided a semi-consistent cast, entailing the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Adrian
Edmondson, Nigel Planer, and Rik Mayall, all whom eventually became known as ‘The
Young Ones’ (minus Robbie of course). Here, have a look at this...
OK, so now the history is out of the way with, what did I think about ‘The Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt for Tony Blair’? Well, to be honest with you, I did like it, but at the same time I also had a number of ‘issues’ with it as well. You see, on the one hand, I enjoyed the brash and bold comedy, I loved the homage to forties / fifties suspense films, and I was really captivated by the actors too. However, on the other hand, the basic novelistic construction of this piece did flimflam all over the place, and made the overall through line for this ‘one hour special’ somewhat jarring in tone.
Personally speaking, if it was not for the fact that some of the ‘old guard’ was going to be in this program, I do not think that I would have enjoyed it as much. Listen now, don’t get me wrong – Stephen Mangan really did win me over with his portrayal of Tony Blair, and was able to hold this film on his shoulders nigh on through out. But to be truthful with you, the things that brought a smile to my face the most, were the instances when Nigel, Rik, Robbie, and Harry Enfield (who I would have liked to have seen more of) were on the screen – partly for old times sake – and partly because they are very good satirists.
Overall, ‘The Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt for Tony Blair’ is a very fine comedy to watch. Not only for the satire or the homage though, oh no, but due to the message to this piece have – why do politicians always appear to get away with their ‘transgressions’. Well, just think about it for a moment – who suffered more because of the Iraq War? The politicians? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. The people suffered – both at home and abroad – and that dear reader is what this satire is all about.
Now in addition to this political stance, this comedy would also be very interesting for people whom like the ‘Austin Powers’ series of films – because – in a slightly different way – this is what Mike Myers accomplished with his ‘spy thriller’ pastiche.
Fine homage – great actors – shame about the plot.
THE RATING: B+