Film Review – Millions, It’s All Gone Pete Tong, The Pacifier

Forging It

(Originally Published in Inform Magazine, June 2005)

The posters for Millions announce that this is “a Danny Boyle film you can take your family to see”, which seems a bit presumptuous since there are Danny Boyle films I wouldn’t take my tax inspector to see. A Life Less Ordinary, for example, was a film you really wish they could invent a mind rubber for, and featured Ewen McGregor being even worse than he is in Star Wars.

The hype for Danny Boyle came from his first two films, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, the derivation from his open worshipping of the style of Martin Scorsese if not his storytelling ability, and the disappointment came in the form of The Beach, upon which a lot of hopes were pinned and which ended up looking like an Emmanuelle film without the porn. Since then, he has licked his wounds with necessarily smaller fair like 28 Days Later and, now, Millions.

No longer able to command stars like Leonardo Di Caprio (unlike, say, Martin Scorsese) or even his old mate McGregor, Boyle is trying his best to grit his teeth and do what he does on a budget. Millions is set in the cosmopolitan city of Warrington and stars TV stalwarts James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan and a couple of kids he picked up from a local Comprehensive.

We probably shouldn’t laugh at Boyle’s straightened circumstances, but look through some of his old interviews and tell me he wasn’t asking for it. Such are the cutbacks he’s been forced to make, it’s now Michael Winterbottom he is emulating rather than Scorsese and after the Hi-8 video look of 28 Days Later, he’s turned to Winterbottom’s screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who has fashioned a typically Catholic script for him; despite another tagline reading “from the imagination of Danny Boyle” – as if the marketing people are trying to humiliate the poor sod as well.

In Millions, one of the kids discovered in the aforementioned Comprehensive finds a suitcase of cash. Because this is a Cottrell Boyce script, the boy naturally thinks it came from God, being as he tends to collect trivia about saints the way other boys collect uh-gi-oh cards. In one of those inevitable movie twists, he only has a week to spend it, so he ropes in his older brother, who seems far more interested in spending it on the sort of worthless capitalist trinkets that only looks bad in feel-good (or in this case feel-God) movies.

Despite Boyle’s best efforts to distract us with the odd sweeping camera move that only seems to be there to remind us that the director has been sitting with the script for months, planning such things, a lot of this film hinges on its youthful star. And, as with all such films, the child in question is hopelessly cute in a way that will make him a very ugly adult, and prone to SHOUTING his lines a lot.

“I thought it was from GOD!” he Lancashirely squeaks at the top of his little lungs. All kids tend to shout like this in films, because such premature confidence only increases their cuteness factor, but when, in this case, the boy is supposed to be introverted, it tends to undermine the entire film somewhat.

So let us leave the lad going up to homeless people in Warrington Town Centre and bellowing “Excuse me, are you POOR? BRILLIANT!” like a minipops Brian Blessed and move on to It’s All Gone Pete Tong, another British film, this time made by Canadian Michael Dowse. This is probably the sort of film Danny Boyle would like to think his audience should expect of him (rather than 2 out of 3 of his films being unwatchable, which is what they actually expect), seeing as it features drugs, vomiting and a general hedonistic vibe that Boyle didn’t quite capture in his Inspector Morse ‘rave’ episode.

Paul Kaye plays a DJ in Ibiza who, like a lot of premiership stars, has a small amount of talent and a disproportionate amount of money, sex and worship from the masses. If this all sound a bit 10 years ago then you’re right, but films like this aren’t easy to get off the ground, despite being shot on video in patented Spinal Tap ‘mockumentary’ style. Up on his bullshitting lingo (“We’re bending the sounds. I’ve been forging it. We’ve a lyrical smelter.”) Kaye is forced to take stock of his obviously ridiculous lifestyle when he goes deaf, although it really isn’t long before he works out he can do the same thing through vibrations, rather than those automatic BPM counters that most DJs use these days.

A film about the Ibiza scene was inevitable although far from wanted, and this one tries its best to portray the whole madness realistically (sometimes a little too realistically); but it’s still a film about something that you don’t want to examine too closely, starring a thoroughly unlikeable character and featuring things you really didn’t want to see. And yet it’s still a better watch than Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, which makes A Life Less Ordinary look like The Aviator.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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