1 May 2001 | The_Movie_Cat
The first in a series of abysmal Confessions-wannabes, the Adventures trilogy are sterile, desperately unfunny sex comedies, with horrendous direction and dire production values.
The first starred a miscast Barry Evans, trying hard to be laddish but drawing somewhat short. He's a sensitive chap, the sort that can tell "whether a bird's had a right good seeing-to the night before" and cheers himself up by "picking up a bit of crumpet." Evans's constant talking straight to camera is supposed to be endearing, but it's really just irritating. Christopher Neil's Bob West made this a more likeable trait in Adventures of a Private Eye, though it was toned down and notably dropped altogether for the third film in the franchise.
The series always goes farther than Confessions ever did, too. So that while Timmy Lea's escapades were really the next generation of Carry Ons with a few more boobs, the Adventures have a slightly nasty edge. After four weeks of watching Robin Askwith's rear end it's a shock to see Evans's and Neil's willy flapping all over the place, and the sex scenes are notably more graphic. In particular, a scene intimating a woman being penetrated by a snake lurches the film towards X-rated territory. Sex with animals seemed to be a particular preoccupation of the series, with the second sequel, Plumber's Mate, featuring a coupling with a mouse. Look out too for pathetically staged "squashed cat" scenario (cue man off camera making unconvincing "cat" noises), the nadir of Plumber's Mate, one of the most amateurish films I've ever seen.
On the subject of the sequels, Private Eye surprises by being halfway decent, though still cries out for incidental music to perk up the somewhat lifeless atmosphere. Even performing the theme song, Christopher Neil gives a zippy, amiable performance, something he was unable to do with the obnoxious character of Sid South in Plumber's Mate. One thing the series did bring to the proceedings was plots, so much so that Private Eye even largely forgets to put the sex into sex comedy. It takes away the nasty edge for once, and is more traditionally humorous. (Basically, it's got some jokes in it.)
But back to Taxi Driver, a picture that never gets started. The irksome theme tune is sung twice during the movie in a flagging bid to pep up proceedings, and five times as an instrumental. David Brierley (One of the K-9s from Doctor Who, no less!) provides an opening monologue, juxtaposing images of cab life with an upbeat narration. So then when he talks about the "gallant knights of the road", we see a cabbie flicking the v-sign, and so on. And on. And on. Like the rest of the films pace, it's a joke that wears thin after the first three seconds, and positively aches by being extended past its natural lifespan.
Transvestites, prostitutes and oral sex references, the weirdest thing about all this is that this sexist tripe was written by a woman.