Should have known really. Leigh Francis as Keith Lemon’s output recently has gone a little bit wayward: Celebrity Juice remains a deliriously naughty delight, but Lemon Aid was a waste of time and Lemon La Vida Loca is very hit and miss, but the character is still very funny, and his comedy is very infectious. The opportunity to see him on film always felt like a joke – a silly cash-in on a character that would hopefully parody the sub-genre of such films while offering a few solid gold nuggets of lewd, crude humour – but even the lowest expectations ended up missed entirely by this fetid mess of a film that fails on almost every level.
There’s a minimum of effort, technically and artistically, and the film seems content to trade on the moronic appeal of copious swear words and inappropriate gags – and while that works for Lemon in the Celebrity Juice format, it’s all stripped back without humour or intellect in the film. Dick jokes and people saying rude words are not enough to drive a film on, and you have to wonder why anyone ever thought this film, with this approach was ever going to be anything other than career suicide for most of the people involved.
And it’s not that I’m being too high-brow and bad-mouthing a film for being too vulgar – because I’m a big fan of Lemon’s inappropriate shenanigans usually, there’s something wonderfully adolescent about watching him ignore social conventions and boundaries to make lewd sexual advances at C Level celebrities. Occasionally it goes too far, but the freedom to ad-lib and the genuine shock value of Lemon’s antics on both audience and panel members more than atones for the low points – and in film form that freedom is gone, and it seems Leigh Francis’ work has suffered for the imposition of restrictions and the perceived need to be more cinematic.
Along the way, Lemon’s comic impact goes entirely out of the window, his jokes lacking any impact at all – bar one silly but affecting jism gag – and the plot, including most gratingly Kevin Bishop’s skin-crawlingly awful and downright offensive Dougie is just plain terrible. Had it all been done more tongue-in-cheek, it might have worked as a rubbish curio like a more adult Spice World, but instead it’s boring, offensive and not funny in the slightest. Like Spice World.
Ironically for a film so bogged down in toilet humour, most of the cast, Francis included, feel like their simply going through the motions, offering perfunctory and largely unfunny performances, and it says a lot about a film when Kelly Brook and Verne Troyer are the best actors on show by some distance.
The rest of the cast is made up of cameos – largely by “friends” of Keith Lemon who’ve clearly been convinced that their appearance will be side-splitting, especially if they swear or mention their tits or something. But the cameos don’t work, because the “stars” are trying to suggest their inclusion is somehow grotesque and ridiculous, whereas it’s by no means a stretch to imagine any of them in this sort of perfunctory garbage. Self-parody doesn’t work when you accidentally find your own level in the process, and watching the likes of Jason Donovan, Paddy McGuiness and the Hoff “gamely” take the piss out of themselves is just tragic.
It’s hard to see anyone involved here emerging with any credibility intact, and unless it was all a daft joke pulled by Leigh Francis, it’s still completely baffling that any of the financiers of the film thought it would be a good idea. Of course the Keith Lemon “brand” will drive people to the cinema, but when the product is this shoddy that’s a dangerous game to play, and though Lemon himself will probably emerge unscathed and return (hopefully) to Celebrity Juice, he will do so having failed as a big screen icon.
But then, perhaps that was the joke – Keith Lemon, making a film? Of course it would be the worst film ever. And God bless him, Leigh Francis almost succeeded, and the final indictment came when the blooper reel over the credits was infinitely more entertaining than the film itself.