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  • For my sins, I work in Paisley, where this film adaptation of noted artist (his most widely known work arguably being his album sleeves for fellow Paisley "Buddie", the late Gerry Rafferty) and writer (BBC TV series "Tutti Frutti" which starred Robbie Coltrane and Richard Wilson, amongst others) John Byrne is set, although I miss the time-line by several years. It took many years for this celebrated play (in fact originally a trilogy) to come to the big screen although a television version was made many years before and I've also seen a theatrical production of the piece too.

    Anyone expecting an uplifting celebration of late 50's working life, infused by rock and roll music will be disappointed however. This is a highly stylised, very stage-bound piece with all its main characters desperate to escape their daily drudgery in some way and all failing. While the broad west of Scotland vernacular and interior sets invite a degree of familiarity, the speech patterns and situations of said characters don't. Correspondingly, I found it difficult to relate to the people in the film and while some of the visuals and indeed acting are watchable, in the end, I found it a rather cold, unappealing piece, with really no one to like in the cast.

    As you'd expect from its depiction of both the inner and outer lives of its youthful cast, sex, rock and roll music and for want of a better phrase the "generation gap", there is a degree of energy in the piece, but there's not enough leavening humour to carry it through, while the interesting idea of having contemporary Scottish acts like Pat Kane, Eddi Reader and the Proclaimers cover the various pop and rock songs of the day to further accentuate the film's locality, doesn't really work and in fact tends to distance the characters even more from the viewer.

    The cast try hard but ultimately can't breathe enough life into their parts so that apart then from some striking scenes and day-glo visuals, the end result for me is a film of limited appeal that I wouldn't imagine reaching out far from its lowland Scottish roots.
  • Theo Robertson9 April 2003
    The problem with THE SLAB BOYS is the limited appeal . It`s based on a stage play - And boy does it show with its static locations - set in a Paisley dye factory in the late 1950s . I know Paisley fairly better than the majority of IMDB members because I used to shop there for clothes , but watching a film about a Paisley factory won`t appeal to me , in fact I doubt if it`ll appeal to anyone in Paisley . Not seeing through this flaw the producers tried to market THE SLAB BOYS as a musical by having " Hot " Scottish acts like The Proclaimers and Lulu do cover versions of songs from the 1950s for the soundtrack . So let me see the producers were hoping that teenagers would flock to the cinema to watch the film and then rush out and buy the soundtrack which features 50s pop songs by The Proclaimers and Lulu ? Teenagers ? The Proclaimers and Lulu ? I think I can spot a flaw in this cunning marketing idea

    I remember reading in the Scottish press that THE SLAB BOYS cost three million pounds to produce and only made a little over thirteen thousand pounds at the UK box office . The reason it made so little money is obviously because of its limited appeal , but unless you know a bit about film producing you`ll be confused as to how it cost so much to make since it has only a few sets and a small cast . The answer to that is simple , most of the budget went on the copyright of having artists do cover versions of songs . The Proclaimers ? Lulu ? I`m sure they enjoyed their pay day
  • I think that this movie produces as much enjoyment as slowly squeezing your finger in a vice. Don't waste your time with this boring, depressing, incredibly stupid movie. The movie was an extremely weak attempt at producing some comedy by a surrealist depiction of the culture and heirarchy of a design factory. Some strong acting but absolutely weak script.