27 August 2012


Idiocracy is a fun movie, and one which often comes up in my reviews of bad or dumb movies, and other people's reviews of those movies, which sometimes make it seem like we're hurtling towards a bleak and unenlightened future, obsessed with celebrity and scornful towards intelligence and hard work. In that future, the fact that shows like The X Factor and The Only Way Is Essex don't lend themselves to home entertainment releases should hopefully mean that there'll be little to consecrate the celebrity culture at its current level of vapidness, outside of archive footage.

But the archaeologists of the future are destined to tremble at the horrors offered by Keith Lemon: The Film, in which the host of ITV2's flagship show, Celebrity Juice, is re-characterised as a businessman from Leeds. Idiotic as he is, he over-estimates the demand for a home security gizmo that he's trying to hock to the world, but happens upon a new smartphone prototype that is bequeathed to him by an un-savvy inventor. Marketing his Lemon Phone makes him a billionaire overnight, and he sets about fulfilling his wildest fantasies with his newfound wealth.

I've buried the lead for long enough- Keith Lemon: The Film is easily one of the ten worst films I have ever seen, and a serious contender for the worst ever, full stop. For all of the slaver about expectations and fandom that may come my way, here's some context for you. Although my dad and my brother are fans of Celebrity Juice, I've only watched a couple of episodes, and hey- I don't hate Keith Lemon. Or at least I didn't, before sitting through this. Although I suspected this would be more of Kevin & Perry Go Large than of The Inbetweeners Movie, I hadn't anticipated just how unfunny, vile and self-indulgent it would actually be.

Leigh Francis, the man behind Keith Lemon, is one of those comeback kids who's having a rare second wind in terms of popularity. He seemed to go away for a long while after everyone stopped talking about Bo Selecta, and ITV's unlikely adoption of him as their main star has led to a recent burst of over-saturation. Having hosted Juice, as well as appearing in a Jim'll Fix It-style light entertainment show and a mockumentary series, the character is all over. We don't have the tacky Keith Lemon action figures or dolls that surrounded the likes of Little Britain, there isn't enough of a character to spread this far without stretching patience.

I'm talking about this context, as I see it, because it gives just a little rhyme and reason to how shitty this film really is. You can fall out of a boat and hit something that's wrong with Keith Lemon: The Film. The first ten minutes is concerned mostly with meaningless cameos, largely from ITV's guest booking lists. It would be too easy to say that the film is worthless because it stars Jedward, when their involvement is so small and the real problems are so much larger. In trying to give Keith a motivation that can sustain a narrative feature, the only thing that Francis and his co-writer/director, Paul Angunawela, can hit upon is that he wants to be rich and famous, presumably so that he can be like those stars who obviously weren't doing anything better than appearing in this movie.

He also wants to shag Kelly Brook, which you'd think would probably be a goal that more of us could get on board with. Brook is not exactly Vanessa Redgrave when it comes to acting, so you know it's a shitty script when you catch yourself thinking that she's better than this material, which doesn't trouble her with anything other than woodenly reciting crap dialogue in her undies. You also feel for poor Laura Aikman, who has to either act as Keith's sidelined damsel in distress or actually share the screen with the infuriatingly shit Kevin Bishop. Just don't look for the women in the film getting anything to do. So much of the film rests upon sex gags, ranging from bawdy to grotesque, but it doesn't really work when the script sounds like it was written by a 12-year-old boy, though devoid of any youthful imagination.

What really caps this sustained assault on your eyes, brain and face is that it's terribly made. It's not badly shot, but it's packed with crap edits. Poor Billy Ocean gets stitched up by whoever was meant to synch up his miming with the audio of "When The Going Gets Tough", and there are frequently moments where Angunawela has obviously decided to use the shot but not the audio, because the actors' mouths will still be moving. There's also an utterly inexplicable bit of pixellation going on in some scenes, first as a gag (which isn't funny), then to cover up lapdancers' breasts, in a scene that has no other reason to take place in that location. It's like they didn't so much edit the film as open Final Cut Pro, import the footage and then just take turns at head-butting the keyboard for a day or two.

Keith Lemon is obviously popular, but Keith Lemon: The Film may set that popularity up for a steep decline, even for the biggest fan. I saw it in one of the larger megaplexes, and there were zero laughs from anyone, even with the high attendance. It is impressive only in its stomach-churning lack of self-awareness, becoming only more obnoxious and lewd for the bigger screen. The final product is roughly like watching ITV2 without adverts, and about as funny as carbon monoxide poisoning. Even the subtitle "The Film" is a slap in the face- I'm genuinely disgusted to have to talk about this as part of a medium that I love. It's a time capsule full of shite, commemorating the worst of British celeb culture and taking far more than it gives back to the world.

Keith Lemon: The Film is now showing in cinemas nationwide. Just remember that when you think about that other, limited release arthouse film you really want to see...
If you've seen Keith Lemon: The Film, why not share your comments below? If you haven't seen it yet, and pay money to see it after reading this review, then fuck you.

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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