Cambridge Film Festival World Premiere Review: Round Ireland With A Fridge

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The Pitch: The movie of the book of the tour of the fridge. (And the man.)

The Review: Tony Hawks. A man with an average TV career, one of a long list of comedians who have eked out a career through TV panel shows along side their work on the comedy circuit, he is no doubt most famous these days for his literary endeavours, the most prominent of which has now received the big screen treatment. It’s a story of a man, a fridge and a pointless goal to circumnavigate a country in each other’s company (although, of course, the fridge doesn’t actually have much say in the matter), and so who better to convey the ennui and frustration that drove him to this endeavour in the first place than… Tony Hawks, of course?

The early stretches of this adaptation capture that frustration very well, although as a consequence the humour arises from that boredom, and so we’re not talking belly laughs, but a more gentle, reflective humour.  The tour itself represents the last two-thirds or so of the movie and establishes a small set of recurring characters who both comment on and encourage Tony’s search for meaning in the wilds of the Irish countryside, including a Dublin radio DJ (Ed Byrne) and his roving reporter (Valerie O’Connor), and the narrative takes a relaxed approach; there is no real sense of peril in terms of whether Tony might not complete his circumference within his allotted thirty days, for example.

It’s directed by TV stalwart Ed Bye, who has made TV shows such as Red Dwarf look cinematic, but bar a few all-too-brief shots of the Irish countryside makes this look resolutely televisual. Tony Hawks plays himself with the enthusiasm of a man who’s been himself for longer than he’d care to have been, and while this works well in the early stretches while we’re in set-up mode, but less so as we get on the road. Valerie O’Conner, meanwhile, has the distinction of being the only person in the whole film who appears to be attempting any acting; everyone else appears to be aiming successfully for a very artificial line reading which marks them out as famous people who are appearing in a film, rather than actual characters.

Yet, despite all this, the movie gathers a fair bit of goodwill as it trundles along, and it’s the strength of the endeavour and the genuineness of the emotion on display that gets you through, and makes this more enjoyable than it really has any right to be. The promotional material states that Brendan Fraser was unsuccessfully sought to portray Tony Hawks, but having Tony play himself adds to the authenticity of the enterprise, although the parting shot does leave you wondering just how much was in Tony’s head and how much is actually real. The sequel is already in the can, apparently, but a series of TV movies might be a better way of rolling these out; that said, if you’re looking for a relaxing and life-affirming hour and a half, then this is a fairly safe bet.

Why see it at the cinema: Those expansive shots of the Irish countryside are great. Shame there weren’t slightly more of them.

The Score: 7/10

One thought on “Cambridge Film Festival World Premiere Review: Round Ireland With A Fridge

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