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Review of a new comedy film starring Les Dennis as a washed-up psychic

This is what Inside No 9 could have been, had it not for the genius of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith: a plodding, cliche-ridden adventure short of both surprises and laughs.

Les Dennis, who has made something of a career playing washed-up entertainers, is The All Seeing Stupendo, a stage psychic reduced to playing to scant audiences in faded regional theatres. Off-stage, he’s prone to making coarse, charmless comments about both gypsies and his digestive system.

After one gig, he’s followed home by two ne’er-do-wells intent on robbing him of the fortune they are sure he’s stashed away: Eva (April Pearson) and her moronic accomplice Dom (Nathan Clarke), who becomes convinced their mark is a genuine master of the dark arts and could place a hex on him. There could be potential to exploit that supernatural  aspect, but it fizzles out, an underexploited, lazily tagged-on idea from a writer/director (Adam Oldroyd) who seems to have no love for the genre.

Instead, he seems to be aiming for a dark, Ealing comedy vibe – especially when it turns out Eva has other motives for the break-in. Not that you’ll care much, given every blatantly signposted plot turn and gross line is such a turn-off. To be fair, there are a small handful of decent gags, all of them in the trailer.

Although all the cast do the best they can with the feeble script – and Pearson is the stand-out –  the plot and characters are either unengaging or downright unpleasant, each chapter introduced by a trite title card striving to give the illusion of some dramatic heft, but falling short. 

And while Oldroyd makes the film look good on a limited budget, he has little sense of comic pace: there’s one particular exchange involving the woefully wasted Anthony Head that’s intentionally awkward, but so toe-curling to watch, drawn out beyond the point of tedium, that you just don’t care. Even at a shade over 90 minutes, the film drags.

The biggest joke is probably that the ‘all-seeing’ psychic spends a good chunk of the proceedings in a blindfold. He’s just lucky that he can’t see what a turkey of a film he’s in.

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Published: 13 Mar 2022

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Marlon Brando's Corset


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