|I demand you see my un-funny comedy.|
Dir. Nick Nevern
Starring: Jason Maza, Nick Nevern
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Danny (Jason Maza) is an unemployed slacker and football hooligan forced to fend for himself when his Grandfather leaves England to live in Australia. Now homeless, he's plucked from poverty and obscurity by Dex (director Nick Nevern), England's most notorious hooligan. Danny will soon be mentored in the fine art of brutishness by the best of the best. Dex has just been released from an extended stay in the hoosegow and he's yearning to get his old crew back together and wreak vengeance upon his prime hooligan rival. The problem is that times have changed and Dex is living in the past, but for good honest blokes, rekindling former glories and learning some valuable life lessons all round (or not) is within reach for those with the passion and fortitude to make it happen.
Frantic, frenetic, but ultimately never funny, the purported comedy The Hooligan Factory resorts to hoary male-bonding cliches to try endearing us to a clutch of dull, brutish and generally brain-bereft sports hooligans.
I've always found the notion of hooligans vaguely amusing. What's not to love? You've basically got a bunch of pathetic losers who are behind their regional football team so passionately that they're ready to engage in gang warfare fisticuffs with fans of rival teams. They're supposedly team booster clubs, but really, they're a herd of idiots who booze themselves into a rage before engaging in wanton destruction, vandalism and violence. They're little more than street gangs and in reality are probably the lowest order of organized criminals imaginable.
Well, maybe they're not so funny after all.
That said, there's probably a lot of room to extract humour from this subculture, but I think it would only work best within a strictly satirical context (which this movie unsuccessfully flirts with) or as straight-up kitchen sink crime melodrama with dollops of absurdist humour rooted in the extreme behaviour patterns of hooliganism (which it also tries to tackle). The picture mucks about a myriad of approaches, but does none of them well. The movie's goals are far below the bars of satire or straight-up, though, since it's basically trying to spoof the UK genre of hooligan movies while trying to be a decent hooligan comedy in its own right. Spoofs are the easiest thing to do and yet it takes considerable mastery to pull them off well (e.g. the ZAZ Boys' Airplane, Naked Gun, etc.) which The Hooligan Factory is too incompetent to be capable of doing even half-assedly.
Those unlucky enough to have to sit through this execrable nonsense will be faced with a movie that's about as funny as having a humungous infected cyst lodged deeply in one's rectum being lanced with a sharp razor that's been sterilized fresh off a Bunsen Burner. Everything is pitched as if it's meant to be funny, but is in reality just plain loud, moronically broad, so tiresome it borders on being deathly dull and worst of all, is saddled with a predictable been-there-done-that storyline.
It's bad enough that The Hooligan Factory is woefully derivative of fellow Brits Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), but without their natural sense of humour and virtuoso directorial prowess, but when the screenplay pathetically attempts to ape Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, the movie crosses into territory from which you absolutely know is going to result in a dreadful picture. In that respect, it doesn't disappoint. It's as bad as you know it's going to be within the first five minutes of watching it.
The Hooligan Factory had its Canadian Premiere at the FantAsia International Film Festival 2014 in Montreal.