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Thom Tuck Goes Straight To DVD

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s a simple idea, and one obviously ripe with comic potential. Thom Tuck, formerly of the Penny Dreadfuls, sat down to watch all of Disney’s straight-to-DVD animated sequels. All 54 of them.

And guess what? Some of them aren’t exactly Citizen Kane, offering plenty of chances for Tuck to rip apart the conceit of shows such as Cinderella 2: A Dream Comes True, Lady And The Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has Glitch.

Some of the shots are fairly easy, but accurately hit – Gilbert Gottfried’s singing voice in the Aladdin sequel, for example. But Tuck’s supposedly serious-minded insistence on subjecting all the films to proper critical scrutiny provides moment of important outrage – especially when trying to get to grips with such peculiarly Disney ideas as the ‘midquel’, a film that takes place in the same timeframe as the original.

It might be the fear of the Mouse House’s famously litigious legal team, but there are no clips here – and the show is all the better without them, as they would surely slow the pace. Although no sane person can be expected to know all the obscure scenes Tuck describes, he still conveys his displeasure expressively.

Although you don’t have to have seen any of the sequels, it would surely help, as would knowledge of the originals that spawned them. A clue as to why I wasn’t enjoying this quite as much as a lot of other people (though I was still enjoying it) came at the finale, when the audience joined in with a rousing singalong of a song that wasn’t in my consciousness at all, without lyrics to prompt them. I figured out it was from the Little Mermaid, a film must have escaped me even though I’m obviously aware of it.

This is Tuck’s first show as a solo performer, and unlike fellow Dreadfuls Humphrey Ker and David Reed, he’s gone for a straightforward stand-up approach. You wouldn’t know his background was in sketch, given he speaks with such innate authority, and with comic timing and the appealing emphasis that brings out the best in the material. The style is of a half-inebriated posh boy, partly distracted but keen to make just one more point before leaving the bar, with a few shades of Stewart Lee, though it’s an influence not a rip-off.

Threaded into the rants about the DVDs are stories of Tuck’s personal heartbreak, from childhood to more recent relationships, where the hurt is a little more raw. It’s a contrivance, whose relevance isn’t revealed until the end, and though he makes the pieces fit snugly, it’s a clear bit of engineering to give the show structure.

However this is an assured debut from Tuck. I look forward to the sequel.

Review date: 15 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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