3 And Out

April 24, 2008

OUT: Friday 25th

It’s fair to say the British film industry has a rather patchy reputation, and for every Trainspotting there will be a Mean Machine. Despite a formidable cast, this black comedy fails to raise anything more than a few wry smiles- and certainly a little distaste. 

Mackenzie Crook (still plodding about in weak roles since his Office breakthrough) plays Paul, an introverted London tube driver with ambitions to become a writer. After accidentally ploughing his train into two people in as many days, his colleagues tell him there’s a 10-year salary pay-off if he bumps off one more before the week is out. The offer is tempting enough to drive Paul to seek out a generous suicidal case Tommy (Colm Meaney) to leap in front of his train and earn him the compassionate bonus. But Paul grants the alcoholic loser one final weekend in the land of the living with over a grand of his money, and then things start getting personal…

With a golden premise like this, shame on the film makers for making such a hash of it. 3 And Out is slow, full of laboured jokes and very badly scripted. Though the supporting cast make a fair fist of their roles, Crook delivers a bland leading man. It’s not that he’s unlikeable, just that we really couldn’t care less what happens to him. Imelda Staunton is a real catch for such a lacklustre project, and struggles valiantly against lazy and cliched dialogue to produce some touching scenes alongside estranged husband Tommy. 

An unconvincing love story between Paul and Tommy’s daughter Frankie turns out to be an excuse for an inappropriate romp with the beautifully nude Gemma Arterton. Unecessary, yes, but we’re not complaining. 

 

Even Sir Anthony Sher was somehow prodded into thinking that playing a character who wants to eat Mackenzie Crook’s penis would be a smart career move. Tut tut.

Yet despite a reliance on tasteless gags to fuel the comedy here, 3 And Out manages to come out relatively watchable and with a rather sweet centre. The only real puzzle is how a screenplay this flawed attracted this calibre of funding, star power and distribution. There are students making better films than 3 And Out-lightweight projects like this are undoubtedly more at home in the home.  

 

THE CRUNCH

2 / 5  passengers killed this week

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