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  • If you've seen the new Bond movie, you'll have seen the trailer for this film - believe me, it in no way does it justice. I was lucky enough to see the "world premiere" at the London Film Festival and I left that cinema grinning like an idiot.

    Basically, this is not your stereotypical Britflick. It's a movie with a very strong cast, characters you actually care about, and a story that's original, hilarious and moving. Top marks too for the soundtrack - every song is a diamond, and they've even got Gizz, who I recognized as the guitarist with The Prodigy, playing some wicked stuff (let's just say that the final scenes need to be seen to be believed).

    I don't see any reason why this film shouldn't be right up there with "Lock Stock" and "The Full Monty", but please - ignore the trailer.
  • When you see a lot of films they unfortunately tend to blend together after a while due to formula film-making and seeing the same faces over and over again. "Churn and burn Bruckheimer films. G'day again Nick Cage".

    Then out of the blue, along comes an absolute gem like WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HAROLD SMITH? This is a wonderfully original British film accessible to any nationality, extremely funny, full of heart and obviously written by someone with imagination... and not just an idea for packaging a concept. A rare movie where the clever script and performances of the cast never have you questioning the most unbelievable of circumstances.

    The mostly ensemble cast could not possibly be bettered with Tom Courtney, as Harold, putting in a wonderfully restrained performance... possibly his best over a long career that includes an Oscar nomination for THE DRESSER. Good performances are too many to mention but Michael Legge as son Vince, the driving force of the story, is a real talent with impeccable comic timing and an air of innocence that will definitely see him go places.

    If you're looking for something different, give this film a go and be totally immersed in the 70's, have a good laugh and be entertained by a refreshing piece of entertainment.
  • duerden6026 June 2005
    There are a lot of negatives written about this film. I think people get upset over things that, let's face it, don't really matter much. Who cares if punks are not portrayed very well, or cars arn't painted as perhaps they should be? Tom Courtney is brilliant in this, It's a bit of fun for goodness sake. No boys with their toys, no posing hard guys, no f***k me when you're ready females, there just for decoration. Hey! no wonder a lot of guys don't like it much, how dare somebody make a film that deviates from the same tired old formula!! Myself? I enjoyed it. Of course it's not 'art,' just entertainment, and all the better for it in my view.
  • I saw this movie 'by accident' last night - a friend of a friend had an old video copy - and thought it was absolutely brilliant. And I had a lousy hangover! I hadn't even heard about it before - I don't know if it ever had a proper cinema release but it clearly wasn't the huge hit it deserved to be. I can't believe some of the negative comments I've read about it. Were they watching the same film? I thought the story, the characters and the whole 70's feel of it was amazing - even if the 70's I recall wasn't quite as colourful as that. Tom Courtenay was superb as the enigmatic Harold, likewise Steven Fry and David Thewliss. Harold's speech about the tortoise was a classic. I noticed you can't even buy this film on DVD or video now but my advice is if it's ever on TV check it out!
  • This was an absolutely shocking surprise hit for me. I watched it last night and cannot believe that it passed me by for nigh on 9 years.

    From the outset I was belly laughing at it. The plot was completely surreal and I was amazed that the whole story of Harold was lapped up and accepted by people.

    This is one indie movie that needs to be bigger. Trainspotting was the benchmark for how a British movie should be made, but this one moved the bar. It has just completely trashed my "top 5" of movies and I cannot fault one part of the film. I just want to sit in front of my TV and watch it again and again.

    The cast was perfect. All characters were realistic, and it was just pure entertainment from start to end. I insist that you see it NOW!
  • This is one of the best movies I've ever seen! The acting is amazing, and the story is laugh-out-loud funny! What a great sense of humor, especially if you're British and into punk! Fantastic music too! I loved it. Someone had a truly hilarious time writing this movie!

    The best parts? Well the last scene, definitely!Punk meets John Travolta...a marriage made in...???!! I loved the professors home life, been there, done that...thanks dad!! And what a treat to see all those blasts from the past...High Karate aftershave, the Queens speech and Urei Geller. What more could a person ask for apart from the 'Vision On' music! And does anybody know how they got Angela Rippon, Alan Whicker and John Craven in this movie! Then there was Keith Chegwin. Go Cheggers Go!! But I think you had to be there! For those who were born too late to live the punk/new wave dream....sorry guys! It was the best of times, it was the ...well you get the picture.

    So In summary, punk rules, but disco dancing is cool too...but punk still rules! I'm not sure about the tortoise vote but the last glimpse of Harold was just perfect!Oh! And how is it that Lulu never seems to age?
  • This is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. The direction is excellent, the acting is great, although really weird, and the script is perfect.

    This film is a real masterpiece but I think many people just can't get past the accents. It's NOT a "accurate depiction of the 70s" - or at least, it's not trying to be. It's a movie in which really normal people deal with really WEIRD situations. I love it because everyone stays normal despite this strange phenomena of Howard Smith's.

    I've never seen a romantic comedy with such normal, and realistic people who, despite being idiots, were sweet, and honest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is excellent. Utterly hilarious. While it pulls out many of the standard gags, it dose them in a superb way. It's also quite cheesy, but this makes it fun. Very fun.

    This happens to be one of those movies where you yell at the characters for being silly, but in a good way. Again, adding to the cheesy excellence of the whole piece.

    So many of the ideas executed in the film are so wonderfully silly. The best friend dating the mom, and the final confrontation between the dad and the bad punk boyfriend with flashy psychic powers...both excellent, along with so many other parts of it.

    Sometimes you can't hear what the characters are saying, but that's because they're British. That is my only gripe.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS Always an amusement, generations will always tell each other how great an era was. Whether a man truly thrives as a hippy in the 1960s or whether he's a punk in the 1970s, the one thing which can nearly always be seen is that he remembers that time fondly. It's films like "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?" which try to latch onto this. Giving a strong impression that writer Ben Steiner grew up as a Disco Enthusiast in the 1970s, the film has raised questions about accuracy. Punks might complain about the strong criticism of them, but whether the film is accurate, or whether it's ridiculously one sided, the one thing which should not be questioned is that you'll come out of this film feeling cheerful.

    Harold Smith (Tom Courtenay) is a family man who likes to watch television and never causes anyone any trouble. With a constantly cheating wife (Lulu), a magician son (Matthew Rhys) and a younger son in love (Michael Legge), Smith seems to leave a relatively normal life. This changes however when it is discovered that Smith possesses magical powers and becomes a figure of media curiosity.

    Told from the point of view of younger son Vince (Legge), "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith" is a great film which is deep down really about following your dreams and being happy. In love with punk fan Joanna (Laura Fraser), Vince spends the film trying to win the girl whilst finding himself in a era when people seemed to be either punks or disco fans. Whilst the story has minor subplots (Stephen Fry's change from science into religion is brilliant), it's this idea that we should never be afraid to fight for what we want which really makes us smile.

    In majority, the cast performs adequately. Legge, Courtney and Fraser shine, whilst James Corden as Legge's friend Walter is at times superb. All in all, the only real criticism in the acting is Lulu. Whilst an acceptable musician in a time gone by, sadly Lulu has never really been much good at acting, and in this film she confirms it with a vague performance as Courtney's cheating wife.

    Any film which has a soundtrack containing disco and punk is going to sound questionable. Somehow though, "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?" manages this easily. Switching from the high pitched tones of the BeeGees through to the heavier tones of the Clash, the film succeeds in playing songs by most of the major artists of the time. On a personal note, it's finest soundtrack moment is when towards the end we witness a punk band joining into a well known BeeGees song. This should be awful and it should be shocking, but the band manages to put just enough instrumental into it that we get a superb little scene which lasts in the memory.

    If you weren't there, you aren't going to know how truly accurate this film is. For some it might be a nice reflection of a time they loved, whilst for others it might be completely false and insulting. As a film though, the plot is designed to leave a smile on the face and it manages this rather well, whether historically accurate or not.
  • I also had the opportunity of seeing this film at the London Film Festival, but not having grown up in the 70s approached it with few expectations and even less knowledge of what the period was like. The actors all turned in good performances, with Tom Courtenay especially memorable. The direction was slick and the film consequently flowed smoothly. Some jokes were hilarious and reflected the overall strength of the screenplay, which was packed with novel ideas and witticisms. All in all a very friendly and fun film that I would highly recommend.
  • astrida21 September 2002
    This film is absolutey delightful, a combination of a well-written and hilarious script, and some amazing art direction. Every scene in this movie presents its audience with an eyeful of imaginative staging. If you liked the movie The Royal Tennenbaums, see this... its more funny and even more visually rich.
  • misty-2012 March 2000
    Well the British film industry has certainly excelled itself this time. This film is original, comical, extremely fun and is guaranteed to have you boogieing the night away!

    Michael Legge is fantastic as Vince Smith, and you cannot help but feel for his character in his love torn feelings. Harold Smith is also great but Legge has the 'fever'.

    If you liked and enjoyed 'Saturday Night Fever' then this is the film for you. But it is in my opinion that this film is much better, so if you only liked it you will love 'Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?' just as I did.

  • If you want to see what the seventies where really like, check this out and avoid TV dramas like Days Like These! An enjoyable film though not as funny as it thinks it is,or could have been. Still nice to know that reasonable British films can be made without obviously appearing to the American market. Worth a look
  • blade-2111 March 2000
    Warning: Spoilers
    Despite some minor anachronisms (the film is supposedly set in 1977 but, at times, seems to bound between the 50s and 90s) this was a heartwarming and hilariously funny film. Like "The Full Monty" the film is Sheffield based but, in terms of belly aching humour, it excels even that movie. I can't say much more because to do so would probably produce spoilers but its well worth a visit.
  • This is a coming of age movie about a young man who is trying to find out who he is and how he wants to be in the world. Many of his early attempts at creating his own persona fail miserably but they are very funny nonetheless.

    His father, played by the great actor, Tom Courtenay is very enigmatic and he can do real magic tricks. I have watched this movie about three times and see different things in it every time.

    Especially watch for the character played by Stephen Fry. You will fall down laughing. All in all, a well done film with lots of depth and wonderful characters.
  • I had the opportunity of seeing this film at the London Film Festival and as I grew up in the 1970s, it seemed like an interesting premise.

    Sadly, 'Whatever Happened to Harold Smith' is another in a long line of British cinema disasters and is destined to be lambasted by the critics and ignored by the public.

    The makers of this film are so lazy that they feel that stringing together a bunch of cultural references around a shallow and uninteresting story and adding a big soundtrack is enough for a surefire success. Well, despite the ridiculously sycophantic applause of Saturday night's audience, the release in February or March will illustrate that this is simply not good enough.

    The performances are passable although Stephen Fry does little more than play himself and the lead actor is so inconsequential that I can barely remember his performance.

    However, it is the cultural references that really grate - these include a car painted like Starsky and Hutch's, not one but two examples of Hai Karate adverts, a ridiculous take off of the opening of Saturday Night Fever and a variety of newsreaders from the period clearly appearing 20 years too old. It's remarkable that they didn't manage to squeeze spangles in somewhere.

    However, the single worst thing about this film is the way that it portrays punks as criminals or deadbeats. Having been a disaffected youth into this music myself, I don't recognise these characters at all and this moral line on a little rebellion leaves a very nasty taste indeed.
  • In contrast to some of the reviews I've read, I thought this film was a poor effort on every level.

    I grew up in the North of England in the 1970s - was one of the first punks in Sheffield (where I understand the film is set) - and I don't see any authenticity in it. Just a bunch of caricatures meandering through a faux 70s setting.

    The plot lines were dreary and unfocused and the resolution ridiculous. Two lackluster juvenile leads and the remaining talent chronically under used.

    It fails- as most British movies do - to actually look like a film. It looks cheap. It has televisual sensibilities - and budget TV at that. The disco sequences really rock - not. Hard to spread out fifteen extras to make a room seem full I know.

    All in all it is rubbish. And its no wonder it was a flop when originally released.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In fact, the story is mostly about his younger son Vince (Michael Legge ) and hardly about Harold Smith (Tom Courtenay) at all. And it's only at the end that we can even understand why screen time is given to episodes in the father's life.

    In addition to Courtenay's endearing performance, veterans Stephen Fry and David Thewlis contribute the best of the comedic acting, in what is otherwise an aimless, meandering tale that did not need to be told.

    It's actually young Vince's story, and a wispy one at that: Boy meets girl, boy fails to impress girl, boy finally overcomes himself and wins her at last. This meager theme is padded with several subplots whose only function seems to be providing more situations for the bedevilment and humiliation of Vince and Harold.

    Early scenes establish – and succeeding scenes repeat – various comic (?) humiliations and embarrassments of both father and son. Though not of the grisly sort, these episodes are mean-spirited enough (on the part of the characters) to make an empathetic viewer vicariously uncomfortable. This is offset somewhat by the sweetness of Harold and of Vince's affection for him.

    *Possible spoiler in next paragraph* For most of the film I wondered why we are being told both men's stories. What is the connection? Near the end we finally find out. At a time of crisis, the mild-mannered dad, using his paranormal powers, intervenes to support his son in standing up for himself and his happiness.

    The story seems to be a parable, with the moral that one should stand up for one's individuality and not be pushed around by various kinds of bullies, including inadvertent ones. An admirable theme, but better scripted in other works, and an under-use of good talent here, in my opinion.

    Noticing this title on a used-video sales list, I first checked some IMDb viewer comments. On the strength of their praise I bought the video and was looking forward to being amused, bemused, charmed, and more. This shouldn't have been difficult, since I'm easily entertained and enjoy many kinds of humor (except those that seek to disgust, demean, damage or hurt). And I generally love British humor, not to mention offbeat fantasies and sci-fi.

    But (apart from Courtenay) nothing stellar to report here. Humorwise, I can't understand other reviewers' classing it in the same league as The Full Monty. No comparison, in my opinion! Monty had me in guffaws throughout; Harold only one short "ha!" of surprise and a few smiles.

    At the other end of the spectrum is that British specialty combination of droll absurdity and sweetness. As to this, Courtenay delivers, but it's overwhelmed by a greater amount of noisy straining at stale youth and romance bits.

    Some of Stephen Fry's odd minor character's pronouncements were insightfully absurd -- that is, excellent at capturing the absurdity of a certain type of individual -- but added up to a person I would much rather not be around –- or even watch on a screen.

    This is the first time I've posted a negative review. Normally I'm the less critical sort who gives the benefit of the doubt and extra points for good intentions. Sad to say, that was just too big a stretch for me this time. For me this was a very rare 6 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    #32 Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?

    Keilth Nesbit = The Standard Character

    Pros: Peculiar and rare film conceived in the UK, is one of those types of films that you don't see commonly on television or in cinemas, maybe reading about it I'm sure you didn't even know it or knew it existed, but if some strange reason you get to have the chance to look at it I would tell you they're not bad after all, it's a decent film. Peter Hewitt as director and the actors in the cast are great, David is Nesbit the office manager were Harold (Tom Courtenay) works, who throughout the film showed us his peculiar life, so the film has positive things and not because it is unknown does not mean that it is so bad.

    Cons: I swear I thought this film would make me laugh, but I don't get it at all, I was only attracted by some hilarious scenes/moments, I thought that the mix of the 70's retro themes and the science fiction that the film handles would be something really fascinating, but all hopes faded away, David's character is nothing extraordinary to call him a great secondary, he is the typical head of the office that appears at times during the film to throw his snaps, and on the other hand this Stephen Fry who has good scenes during the film but never gives one between him and David and that's a pity, because I was looking forward to seeing a funny scene between them. The end of the film is too strange for my taste.
  • Sheffield 1977 and 18 year old pen-pusher Vince Smith fancies himself as a Saturday Night Fever styled disco king, but the object of his affection, Joanna, is more interested in Johnny Rotton than John Travolta.

    While spineless Vince wrestles with his conscience, his downtrodden father, Harold, reveals a hitherto undeclared talent for magic that is nearer to the X-Files than the spoon-bending antics of Uri Geller. And when a fatal incident in a residential home brings him to the publics attention, Joanna's pompous scientist father surprisingly declares him a walking miracle! Featuring cameos from such '70s icons as Angela Rippon, John Craven, Keith Chegwin, Jan Leeming, Alan Whicker and Lulu (as Vince's wayward mum), Courtenay is a likeable Smith, and the film has all the ingredients for a warm, quirky romantic comedy, but sadly, it all fails to gel.

    Whatever happened indeed!