THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS – THE HUNT FOR TONY BLAIR

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The Comic Strip Presents Cover Do you know what the difference is between a president and a prime minister? Well, a prime minister has to answer to the Queen, and a president likes to visit Queens. Just ask Director: Peter Richardson; or Actors: Stephen Mangan, Robbie Coltrane, Nigel Planer, Jennifer Saunders, Rik Mayall, and Harry Enfield – especially in 2011 and for 60 minutes.


The Comic Strip Presents


THE STORY:
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 Downing 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 London – by train – and seek hallowed ground within a familiar territory.

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 Iraq (hint, hint).

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 London again. All 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.

Not the end – and not the beginning of the end – but the end of a beginning...




THE REVIEW:
Now for those of you not in the know, before the eighties BBC 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.


The Hunt for Tony Blair - Fuck Thatcher


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.


The Hunt for Tony Blair


Fine homage – great actors – shame about the plot.

THE RATING: B+