Review: ANUVAHOOD, Another Dull Urban Drama

rating: 1

Billed as the first 'urban comedy', Anuvahood is writer/director/star Adam Deacon's brainchild. The guy has a history in the genre, having played a major part in the Noel Clarke Show a.k.a 'Kidulthood' and its sequel 'Adulthood', and so there should be some hope that he has plenty of bile stored up with which he can lampoon it. His launching pad for the film is Kenneth (Deacon), the son of a couple of working-class white people who spends his days working at Laimsbury's (geddit?) and the rest of his time convincing his loser friends that he is an MC called 'Kay'. One day though, he has enough of his humdrum job and, despite his family's financial troubles, quits. His plan? 'Bigger tings'. True to convention, these 'bigger tings' include becoming a 'badman MC' and dealing drugs to the residents of his estate. Also true to convention, this up-and-comer (albeit an unlikely one) has a few people in his way, most notably a steroid-sucking bully named Tyrone (Richie Campbell) who works for an even bigger fish in the form of the local club owner/drug baron. Of course, there are obstacles closer to home, from the cruel bailiffs looking to take all of Kay's family possessions to his true-to-convention motley crew of Tiny Tempah wannabes, Kel (of 'Kenan and Kel'... remember 'Good Burger'? No? Never mind) impersonators and a foreign exchange student named Enrique (Ollie Barbieri from 'Skins') who all threaten to hold 'Kay' back. Or so he thinks. By now you might be wondering where the convention-busting parodies, the artful lampoons, the clever commentaries of the absurdities of the urban genre and the original plot twists are. To be honest, I'm still pondering the same question. The characters are clearly meant to be funny versions of their more serious counterparts. People wet themselves, and messily eat or ironically endorse the carefully placed products, plus a woman from 'Big Brother' has ketchup sucked off of her feet, but aside from being pretty low and uninspired (or, in the case of the latter scene, gag-inducing), the jokes in no way capitalise on the elements of the urban genre that are so ripe for parody. I'd even go a step further than this and suggest that they insidiously reinforce stereotypes. 'Kay' and his band of 'wastemen' are not a parody of the stereotypes in Noel Clarke's offering, but are rather a genuine attempt to mock council estate kids who, the film suggest, seek a way out by emulating crooks. Worse still, they are presented as foolish for doing so NOT because their dream is a myth (the film contains a 'genuine' gangster who is exactly what Kay wants to be) but because working at a supermarket is 'who they are'. Can a script get any more insulting? Only if it mocks white people as lazy, jobless, model-plane building losers or clueless toffs. Which 'Anuvahood' goes ahead and does. Thanks. To top off this comedy of errors (see what I did there?), 'Anuvahood' gets sucked so far into genre convention that it culminates in a bloody stand off in which Kay and Tyrone are alternate threatened with a gun and beaten to a bloody pulp. I'm not sure about anyone else, but watching a teenager get repeatedly punched in the face until he bleeds all over the pavement doesn't tickle my funnybone. Although at least it's Adam Deacon getting pounded, which probably makes it about the most satisfying scene of the film. I should've walked out on that high point instead of watching for his inevitable reversal of fortune. At the end of the film, the only winners are the products placement people. Anyone stupid enough to enjoy this will most certainly subliminally absorb the products with no questions asking, before running out to buy a pack of Fruit-tella, slather it with Reggae Reggae sauce and then cool their burning, sticky mouths with a nice cool Magnum ice cream. Now that's cinema! Anuvahood is released in the U.K. today.
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Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.