A crummy, sentimental, almost boorishly stilted ‘life affirming’ film centred on yet another bumbling and repressed central geek character from Simon Pegg and one which will deliver no surprises whatsoever in terms of its resolution, although having said that the ending was quite nice – indeed that, a wonderful albeit too brief cameo from Christopher Plummer, and Rosamund Pike slapping her ass on Skype are the only things that saved this from incineration.
This is basically Britain’s take on ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘, with Pegg living out the same daily routine with his smoking hot girlfriend (Pike) and going through the motions with the patients at his psychiatric clinic. Essentially having a boredom induced mid life crisis he decides to go travelling, partly due to a boyhood obsession with Tintin (ironic, as Pegg also starred in ‘Tintin : The Secret of the Unicorn‘ and it was also terrible). This obsession fits the story well as it uses many racial stereotypes that wouldn’t be out of place within the pages of the comic (Tintin was one of the most popular comics of the Twentieth century for those unfamiliar with the Belgian boy detective, but initially it contained various caricatures that would never make it into print today), most notably when he goes to ‘Africa’, not a country within the continent mind, just ‘Africa’. Reason being his destination is shown to be run by drug barons and random people with guns who seem to have been educated at Cambridge and speak the Queen’s despite none of their goons knowing a word in English.
Seems a bit strange, travelling to but a single destination in Africa and yet picking one that is completely unstable and commonly plays host to Western abductions. The fudge to facilitate this is Pegg’s old uni buddy who seems to have been there the whole time and naturally as a white Westerner is the only thing stopping all of ‘Africa’ dying from disease or gunfire as the lions prowl quite literally ten yards away from the outdoor operating table, then, in a two pronged attack, this friend painfully creeps his arm around his black bodyguard revealing that he is also the man’s gay lover and that he has stayed as it’s the only place where he feels accepted as himself, despite the fact that the West has very effective and largely victorious gay rights movements and he clearly felt the need to run away and hide as far away as possible from everyone he knew to live out his repressed colonial fantasy of bumming an armed black man and was at great pains to keep this relationship hidden from everyone in the region until they and Pegg were in the middle of nowhere by themselves – I mean, that is both a politically correct and incorrect sandwich gone completely berserk, I’m surprised he didn’t have an offshore dolphin retreat for feminists recovering from troll bashing that doubled as the continent’s first pro bono transgender surgery.
Pegg’s other destinations are Shanghai, where he gets it on with a prostitute who then claims he used her which I still don’t understand, a monastery in an undisclosed location, and …. Los Angeles, that top destination to visit when you are searching your soul for a higher meaning and keeping a journal, as he is, of what makes different people happy. Alas he doesn’t ask any gangbangers, but whilst in ‘Africa’ he does get kidnapped, which at least brought a level of consideration into things, but then he gets out of it via another hopeless fudge.
Although the ending was done quite well for what it is, the fact that the girlfriend he leaves in limbo whilst travelling is both a nice person and very beautiful means there was only ever going to be one outcome to his ill conceived meanderings and one inevitable conclusion to what it means to be happy – sex with Rosamund Pike, and a considerable amount of money that allows you to live in posh splendour in London meaning you never, ever have to think about the hellholes you foolishly decided to travel to and get kidnapped in and where you can quickly turn a blind eye to the problems in the rest of the world as your near death experience has finally convinced your lady to accompany you whilst you engage in your hobby of flying remote controlled planes. Watch ‘Mitty’ instead.