A Cock and Bull Story

Ryan, this one’s for you..

ACABS is a film about making a film based on a book about making a book. I knew nothing of the original work other than it was being made into a movie and that such an endeavour had often been regarded as impossible.

As a fan of both Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan and quirky English movies in general I was looking forward to this. Both leads delivered what I wanted from them – Brydon playing the likeable, affable harmless chap and Coogan playing a more unlikeable character in the lead role. I’m really not sure about Coogan sometimes. Whilst his highest profile exploits seem to be based around anti-hero type characters (Paul Calf, Tony Ferrino, Alan Partridge etc) his own image isn’t that great either. He’s certainly no show-biz luvvie and perhaps this side of his character is taken further with his portrayal of himself in the movie. Coogan plays himself as a pretty unlikeable and vain character. This was either no effort at all for him or a brave acting challenge and a demonstration of a good sense of humour. As a mere viewer, I’m not sure which one it is.

The film definitely falls into the ‘quirky’ category. After the period-drama facade falls away and the fly-on-the-wall documentary style narrative picks up it’s hard to say, specifically, what happens. There’s little in the way of plot other than bits of conversation and a study of one man’s vanity and indiscretion. Perhaps this is a key factor of the original material and the film does a fantastic job of emulating it. I can’t say, I’m ignorant in that regard.

The film is pleasant enough, challenging only in the fact it doesn’t really have a typical narrative structure and generally inoffensive. If you enjoy playing “where have I seen that British actor before?” then this will entertain you. There are moments of dialogue in the movie that show some verbal sparring between Coogan and Brydon which definitely come out as the highlights of the movie.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie but I can only recommend it if you’re willing to take a bit of a risk with your viewing. A hit as a ‘proper’ film, a narrow miss as genuine entertainment.

1 Response

  1. PrivateRyan February 13, 2006 / 1:38 pm

    Hurray! I still haven’t found the time to see this (or more to the point, (I still haven’t found the inclination to drag myself to the cinema). I’m guessing this will end up as another inevitable DVD purchase but one I look forward to nevertheless. Nice write-up Koff.

    Have you seen Coffee & Cigarettes? There’s a cute little vignette with Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan, which kind of touches on the points you mentioned about Coogan being an unlikable character. Not an anti-hero as Alan Partridge was per se, just an… unlikable person. And he was playing himself. Kind of interesting that he’s slotted into these roles. Art imitating life or life imitating art? Who knows. As long as Around The World In 80 Days 2 never gets the green light, I’m not particularly bothered either way – just adds an ambiguous but interesting element to the film.

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