And Away…

The Autobiography of Robert Renwick Mortimer

My earliest memories of Mr. Bob Mortimer were he and his strange accomplice battering each other with Frying Pans on stage. The program had a funny name – the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – and i also recall a particularly hilarious sketch about Asparagus. Then came Shooting Stars – an outright bonkers panel show which involved taking the piss out of Ulrika Johnson (Ulrika-ka-ka-ka) and various random guest stars, most of which i didn’t know because my pop-culture knowledge didn’t extend beyond Star Trek and (cancelled) Dr Who.

I watched, avidly, Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased and my brother and I came to the conclusion that Bob was an awful actor. And i mean this in the nicest way, because his lack of acting talent was hilarious, and really added to my enjoyment of the show.

Anyway, despite his definite presence in my weekly Television consumption, i hadn’t considered him very much; i wasn’t really into my television celebrities if they weren’t in Star Wars or appearing in Noels House Party. He was a name and i would listen if he talked, but i hadn’t yet found my Mortimer awakening. That came only last year, whilst watching the masterpiece Tv show, Taskmaster. All of a sudden Bob was a source of great jocularity, and i was laughing out loud after each task. The man was so ridiculously funny it was painful.

So when i spotted this book on the shelf – without any fore-knowledge of its existence – it was a must buy.

He opens the book by describing his face as a pile of wet spaghetti and i was hooked. I love that kind of weird humour and descriptive nonsence.

But this is more than just a collection of funny stories and amusing anecdotes; this is a true story of a man’s journey through life, discovering friends, miracles and comedy in the most unlikeliest of places. Given what i knew about Bob i was blown away when he tells me he was an introvert, a lawyer and friendless; hopelessly loyal to his wee maw and struggling to survive in a cutthroat industry. Then of course he meets Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) and his life spirals into comedy national treasure status.

His little stories of his childhood and teenage years are heartwarming, and we are introduced to a wide plethora of distinctive characters. Its so…relatable.

One of the comedy comments on the book cover says “its starts when he’s young and finishes when he’s old”, reflecting the usual chronology of an autobiography – but Bob Mortimer here reveals another skill – his gift of storytelling. He crafts an excellent narrative, starting in the present with his sudden heart difficulties, before flashing back and delivering his origin story. He then weaves in time-jumps with clever segues and relevant explorations of his past.

I love the man even more now that i see his pathway through life. He began with the insecurity of a man in the shadow of a genius – but over the course of life has become a true celebrity in his own right. It isn’t the smell of Vic Reeves – its the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. They are both of equal standing and rightfully so, because they are both comic legends.

I’m inspired to seek out Bob’s other prose, because i loved this book. The first autobiography i’ve become truly invested in, come to think of it. Thanks Bob.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

Sonic’s long awaited appearance in the movies was at first struck by that now infamously hideous trailer, that led to a COMPLETE REVISION OF THE MOVIE (FX wise, anyway). Then, with newly animated and fan-endorsed Sonic CG-puppet taking the lead, the film came out. And surprised everyone. Most people. By not being rubbish.

You may or not know that (nearly) all films based on video games are awful, or adored by minority cults. Some, i guess, are acceptable blockbuster nonsenses. Please see Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Bros (!) or even the Resident Evil franchises.

Anyway, despite the fans it narked off by creating new lore – how dare it – in the form of some Owl clan and mother figure Longclaw – Sonic 1 made off with some hefty accolades, such as “Much better than Expected” (culturemap) and “hilarious” (seventh art studio). My own review in my diary of 2020 says, and i quote: “its this years Detective Pikachu” (which was BRILLIANT).

Anyway, its sequel time.

Sonic is batmanning it through life now as The Blue Justice, but he’s not very good at it, cue a James Marsden speech about responsibility to others, and to family. (yawn). However, Dr Robotnik has returned from the Mushroom Planet (not kingdom) to exact revenge, and he’s brought his vengeful big red echidna of rage Knuckles with him. Thankfully Sonic has a new friend – who was teased at the end of movie numero uno – Tails, the two-tailed Fox.

So what follows is a ridiculous tale of excellent (CG) pacy action, comedy wise cracks, UTTERLY OVER THE TOP PERFORMANCES and MASSIVELY OVERBLOWN THEMES OF FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP. However, its a kids film, dammit. Who needs subtlety when you can have uproarious guffaws at the word “buttcopter”.

Ben Schwarz is once again pitch perfect as the fast-talking sonic speed hedgehog, delivering one of my favourite lines of 2022 so far;

“so whats with Clifford the Big Red Rage Dog??”

Tales is a nice wee way of bringing the stereotypical nerdy childhood trope into the movie, neatly matching the general theme of being weird is good, plus he was my favourite character from the videogames (he’s a cute little fox! with two tails! with TWO TAILS!! he can fly like a helicopter! He’s freaking awesome!)

Knuckles is a fuck-off cool Echidna played by Idris Elba, although doesn’t resemble an echidna AT ALL. But i’ll downplay my zoological inaccuracy card in favour of allowing a fox to have two tails. Knuckles does indeed, btw, have massive powerful Knuckles. He is the films secondary antagonist. Sort of.

Jim Carrey returns with as much scene chewing gusto as Ace Ventura overdosing on caffeine combined with fletcher reed overdosing on world domination and with an injection of pure, unadulterated Jim Carrey silliness. This is no Oscars performance. This is cartoon hilarity; child-pleasing daftness splayed to 1000%. The kids will love him.

BUT it can’t all be roses, unfortunately, and here are my woes. Chiefly, the humans. Yeah, the ones that aren’t Jim and his barista sidekick. I even like James Marsden. I do not, however, want to spend ten minutes of the film without Sonic (or Tails, or Knuckles), following the scorned bride of the guy from one of the CSIs or something, who is the sister of James Marsden’s wife. We follow her screaming rage monster as she beats up and then falls immediately back in love with (Sorry, spoiler) her undercover husband in poorly titled Operation Catfish, which the FBI was using to get close to Sonic. I think. Anyway, fuck off humans. Wheres my supersonic hedgehog?

OH speaking of supersonic…well, go see the film.

Oh, and scriptwriters? Appealing to adults doesn’t mean giving Sonic and his pals lines like “Holy sshhhhhh…” and then replacing the ….iitt!! with another word beginning with s. Same goes for the F word. Or the C word. There are funnier ways to making us older people laugh. Like…(par example)… giving the 900 foot robotnik monster a marilyn manson victory dance. Spot on.

And yes, theres a post credits. I had it written down it would be Metal Sonic. I was…soooooo close. Roll on Sonic 3.

RESIDENT EVIL: Welcome to Raccoon City

The Resident Evil films (that huge franchise that followed Milla Jovovich re-killing things and looking awesome all the time and where lots of things blew up and nothing really made sense) were hardly failures – yes they were as ropey as a Go Ape Vacation and had as much oscar-creed as a pile of bananas but did anyone care? Well, sure, unfortunately, it being based on a massively popular video game series with enough geeky fans to populate a moon, it meant a similarly massive proportion of its fan size are going to be pissed off that its a) not canon / not canon enough and b) was taking liberties with a perfectly good video game series story.

I agree, of course. I may not be the biggest fan of the Resident Evil games, but i’ve played a ton of them… and i sort of understand the basic plots because one of my pals has explained it to me once. Heck, i even think i owned a few of them. The remake of the original, the umbrella chronicles on rails-first-person-er, the one with the dude with his head in a bag with a chainsaw… oh, and i watched a grown man lose his shit during a VR session with one of the newer ones…but was i a fan? Hmmm i wouldn’t go that far.

But i understand why some peeps get pissed when films change things from the source material. I’ve ranted about this very thing elsewhere.

So when Paul WS Anderson’s string of rubbish masterpieces came to an end with “The Final Chapter” it seemed inevitable that somewhere down the line a reboot would occur.

But this was not what they wanted. They, being the fans.

This was a ham fisted attempt to tell the already established story of Resident Evil using enough tiny references to keep the fans happy and still tell a cohesive horror story… except somewhere down the line it went from 70% film to 30% Resi love letter to 30% film, 70% obscure reference to something else. Pretty much all the main characters appear, in much more PC skins, and we get to see shot-for-shot recreations of famous scenes (the first zombie turning his head towards the camera from way back when, remember the shot??), writing on the wall, a video of characters unnecessary to the immediate plot… meh. I got lost.

Maybe it is good. Maybe to truly enjoy this you have to be knee deep in the franchise, but if you’re that deep you’re not going to appreciate the unnecessaries – its not as if the characters needed actors anyway – they all look real enough.

And then in that case… why make this in the first place? Why not make another entry into the franchise altogether? A new chapter / spin off set in the franchise’s beloved and expansive world, with a standalone ploy AND some cheeky nods at the series.

Instead, a boring, flat mess, wasting the talents of Firestorm and Damian Dahrk, and the gorilla man from the (laugh laugh) Umbrella Academy. Poor.