Film critics are a funny breed. They have the power to influence what you see, what you eat, where you go, what you do; and often based on very subjective, biased views without any real thought or research. I came very close to not seeing this film due to the appalling press it received. Indeed, after 2 weeks of trawling around the net I was struggling to find one good review of the film. All I can say is I'm glad I gave it the benefit of the doubt...
Don't get me wrong - there's no Oscar winning performances in this film. Some of the accents are a little shoddy and some hilarious moments could have been pulled off much better. Having said all that, this is the first film in a long time where literally the entire cinema (which was sold out) were in fits of uncontrollable laughter throughout. The film isn't *that* bad. Don't believe everything you read (including this!) - check it out for yourself... you may be pleasantly surprised. So, a little different I know, what I'd like to do is feedback on some on the critics comments so that you can form your own, lets say, 'more unbiased' opinion of this.
Firstly, starting with 'Neil Smith' who's reviews have cropped up for none other than the BBC. He quotes, "Newcastle is the setting for this feeble British romantic comedy, starring Patsy Kensit and Donna Air.". For starters, the film does not 'star' Patsy Kensit OR Donna Air. Patsy Kensit plays a relatively minor role in the scheme of things and Donna Air merely makes a cameo appearance (in all of two scenes) as a beautician and barely says more than two sentences. Admittedly, Patsy Kensit's acting wasn't amazing but I wouldn't say Donna's acting was good or bad based on how much you actually see of her in the film.
Neil goes on to say, "...some of the worst accents ever heard in a British picture". Well, I've lived in Newcastle for 28 years and would say I'm quite a good authority on what makes an acceptable 'Geordie' accent. The accents from Richard Roxborough (who played Neil, the kitchen fitter) and Justine Waddell (who played Stevie) were quite plausible. They may not fit into the stereotyped bracket of Geordie accents that some people, who probably haven't been within 200 miles of Newcastle, would like to impose as the norm; but they were quite believable as accents belonging to someone from the area. Believe it or not, there's more than one flavour of Geordie accent - when you've lived here for long enough you can quite easily identify the area of the North East a person comes from just by their accent, as you can anywhere in the world. It's very narrow-minded to think that all Geordie accents are the same.
Mr Smith (and various other 'reviewers') have slated Jonathan Cake's performance, "... a ghastly parody of an Italian footballer...", "...an accent that even Paolo di Canio would have trouble deciphering...". Well, it's pretty damn obvious that Cake is playing a SPOOF role as Italian footballer, 'Andrea / Sonny' in the film. I mean, surely no one in their right mind is of the opinion that all Italians go 'round saying 'Mamma Mia' and constantly misinterpreting common English sayings? Are they???
References have been made by several reviewers, such as 'Cristín Leach' that "...the film plays at times like it was commissioned by the Northern England tourist board.", as if the film is making more of the region than is really there. Well, again these are ignorant fallacies based on the subjective opinion of someone who almost certainly hasn't been to the area, probably envious that the North East have managed to do so much with an area previously stricken be mass unemployment and general neglect. Although Newcastle and the surrounding area looked fantastic in the film, I wouldn't say it distracted from the script or overplayed the location any more than other films. If anything, I think it may have been undersold slightly - barely touching on the beautiful coastlines, Northumberland countryside and Newcastle's famous nightlife. The film casually showed the area how it is (or was, in 2001 when it was filmed - the Quayside is rapidly evolving!) - if you live in Newcastle you *do* regularly see the Tyne Bridge, Millennium Bridge and the Angel of the North! The cinematography of the opening credits, going over the Tyne Bridge, was superb.
Other derogatory remarks have been made about this film which aren't really worth commenting on. To be fair to the 'critics' I would say some of the performances are a bit wooden. At times Roxborough and Waddell seem to be concentrating more on conveying believable Geordie accents than actually letting the script flow. Patsy Kensit was poorly cast and at times sounded more Welsh than Geordie, but she only played a supporting role and her cringefully poor acting only came out in 2 or 3 scenes. Michael Hodgson's role as Kensit's er... 'partner' was very amusing and deserved equally as much recognition.
SPOILER: Angel Thomas plays the virtually silent 6 year old 'Mgala' in the film and makes her first utterance of 'Oh f**k' in the final scene. Although it was quite funny, I feel better timing, phrasing, lack of Patsy Kensit's ridiculous over-acting when she was crying, or SOMETHING could have made this final utterance much, much funnier. The audience were in fits of uncontrolled laughter throughout the film, but it seemed to end on a brief 'chuckle'.
To summarise, as chick-flicks go this was quite enjoyable. It wasn't stupidly romantic and, as mentioned, kept the whole cinema in regular fits of laughter. Just don't let the 'critics' influence your opinion of it too much!