Mindhorn: crime spoof film is 'comedy gold'

Critics hail Mighty Boosh stars' homage to 1980s TV detectives as one of the funniest films in years

(Image credit: © Steffan Hill 2015)

Mindhorn, a new low-budget British comedy-thriller inspired by old detective shows, has surprised critics with its humour and pathos.

Written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, both alumni of surreal comedy series The Mighty Boosh, it sees Barratt in the lead role of Richard Thorncroft, a faded actor once known for his TV cop character, the Bergerac-like Mindhorn.

Now struggling to find work, Thorncroft is forced to return to the Isle of Man, where his defunct series was set, to help police find a serial killer, a deranged superfan who believes Mindhorn is a real police detective. Steve Coogan, Essie Davis, Russell Tovey and Kenneth Branagh co-star.

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Despite its scrappy, low-budget look and pastiche premise, critics have praised the film for delivering on laughs and character.

Rob Leane in Den of Geek calls Mindhorn "a gem of a film" with "joyous '80s-aping cheese". This is "a prime example of British comedy at its wonderful weirdest", says the critic, adding: "It's got a heart to it, too."

Leane singles out Barratt for a "stellar" star turn, "balancing a sorrowful and soulful performance with some sensational silliness" and says he has his "fingers crossed" for a sequel.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian admits the premise of Mindhorn is "a bit derivative" but says"there are such great gags and it is acted with such fanatical gusto by Barratt that it’s impossible not to root for this unlikeliest of heroes".

Bradshaw adds that this "wildly silly and raucous" film with moments of "genuine creepiness and despair" is "a creation to savour".

In Time Out, Cath Clarke says Mindhorn's celebration of "naff British telly" is "comedy gold".

While at times Mindhorn can feel like "a half-hour sitcom episode stretched across 90 minutes", Clarke says the "comedy action-thriller scenario just about works", adding that "the gags-per-minute ratio is through the roof".

Meanwhile Alistair Ryder at Film Inquiry hails Mindhorn as a "cult comedy classic in waiting".

While viewers will likely see plenty of comparisons with Alan Partridge, says Ryder, Barratt creates a character that "stands on its own two feet" and offers up enough gags to make it one of the funniest films of recent years.

Mindhorn will have a limited release in UK cinemas from 5 May before appearing on Netflix from 12 May.

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