THE ODD JOB (1978)

The Odd Job Cover Now you listen here, buddy. If you want a job done properly, don't go to some other smutty review site. Stay here and check out this smutty review site. This one which will recount the following 87 minute movie made in 1978. It was Directed by: Peter Medak; and Starred: Graham Chapman, David Jason, with Diana Quick.

The Odd Job: The Odd Film - The Odd Book

I'm sorry to say there's been a change of plans, Odd Job Man (David Jason). Now if you remember rightly, yesterday you knocked on my door and asked me if I 'needed any work done'. I said 'yes', and then I offered you my colored television to end my life because my wife Fiona (Diana Quick) had recently left me.

Today, however, Fiona has returned. She's seen the error of her ways and wants to make amends like any good housewife should.

So, with that in mind -- you funny-faced gofer -- I was wondering if you can see your way to stop trying to eradicate my person. Oh please don't snuff me out. Come on. I'll be your friend. If it wasn't bad enough the police suspect me of being a killer because of your continual botched attempts. My other half and I would like to patch up our differences without you killing everyone around us.

But then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all takes a nose dive when I say to myself, 'Arthur Harris (Graham Chapman). Why are you having this hypothetical conversation in the mirror?'. As death is in the air - a killer has very damp hair - underworld gangster's talk with God - and at the end of the day, this films resolution is rather quite odd.

On a purely ideological level I'd say 'The Odd Job' was a very funny film. In essence it's about a man who mistakenly asks a relative stranger to kill him because he thinks his wife has permanently left him. Then a few days later when he finds out she hasn't left him, he spends the next good chuck of the narrative trying to stay alive whilst avoiding any obstacles barring his path. Like the police, the doorman, the killer in question, as well as a number of other subsidiary characters not worth mentioning.

The Odd Job Book
However, the one slight gripe I had with this jovial pretext is that occasionally certain scenes weren't that funny in their execution, plus kind of revealed to me its overall 'sketch like structure'.  

Well, you have to take into consideration that this piece was partly written by Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame. And back in the day he was well known for writing some of the most classical sketches for this aforementioned British comedy troupe.

Of course my observations aren't meant to be taken as a slight in any way shape or form. It's just that when you have something like this in mind whilst you are watching this movie, you can't help but notice it the more the plot progresses along its merry way.

Now a good example of this 'sketch like' nuance can be seen in that scene set in the restaurant. In it, the man -- as played by Graham -- and his wife -- as played by Diana -- are trying to have a nice dinner together, even though the waiter mistakes him for a food critique, whilst the man is still nervously keeping an eye out for his supposed killer. I mean, I'm sure anyone would be able to tell its pythonesque conventions nigh on straight away, as well the method in which this scene appears to be both detached -- yet slightly aloof -- from the overall premise.

Once again I'm not trying to imply anything negative here. It's just that this scene -- plus many others I could have mentioned -- did have that unusual quality of being slightly isolated within the narrative, whilst at the same time being rather funny -- or rather repetitive -- to watch.

Oh! And while I'm on the topic of this films humor, yeah, by in large the comedy on offer was fairly humorous for my own particular tastes. Simply put I thought Graham and Jason worked very well together in those few scenes they shared. Plus I have to admit that I did enjoy Diana's more 'grounding contributions', as well as those sequences that involved those three stereotypical cockney gangsters.

The Odd Job Starring Graham Chapman

The Odd Job Starring Graham Chapman and David Jason
But as for the rest of the cast on the other hand, no, not really my own cup of tea, so to speak. Me being a big Python fan I'm afraid to say that I was more invested in Graham and Jason's characters. Where as most of the other players were as lively as the following filmic facts, Ha! (1) 'Charisma Films' first released this production on the exact same month the last episode of "Columbo" aired on the NBC television network -- September, 1978. (2) The majority of this movie was shot at 'Shepperton Studios', Surrey, as well as throughout numerous parts of the English city of London. (3) This film was based on a 1971 episode of the Ronnie Barker anthology series, 'Six Dates with Barker', in which David Jason first played the part of 'The Odd Job Man'. (4) Four months before this movie was released, in May, 1978, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, and Sally Fields, re-told this tale in another comedy called, 'The End'. (5) Bernard McKenna, who co-wrote this movie with Graham Chapman, once said that he found Graham very difficult to work with, plus he didn't like his performance in this picture either. (6) Originally Graham wanted Keith Moon from 'The Who' to play the part of 'The Odd Job Man'. But due to his pre-existing recording schedule, plus suffering from alcohol withdrawal, Keith wasn't able to accept this role. (7) This was the first time the Scottish actor Bill Paterson appeared in a full length feature film. Previously most of his work was done on television. (8) After this adventure cracked a funny, Graham Chapman starred in the comedy, 'The Life of Brian'; David Jason starred in an episode of 'The Dick Emery Show'; and Diana Quick starred in the TV mini-series, 'Brideshead Revisited'.

The Odd Job Starring Diana Quick

Overall I'd say 'The Odd Job' was a pretty good seventies British comedy. It wasn't as 'laugh out loud' funny as I hoped it would be, plus some of the lesser performances didn't really float my boat either. Having said that, though, as push comes' to shove I would defiantly rate its jovial pretext as being something well worth watching for any of you Python fans out there.  

Decent film. Nuff said.