Directed by: Christian Mills and Chris Hopewell
Starring: Simon Pegg, Amara Karan, Paul Freeman, Clare Higgins
Written by: Christian Mills
Running Time: 100 mins
Release date: 8th June 2012
Simon Pegg has built a reputation as one of this country’s finest comedy actors. Along with his collaborations with buddies Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, Pegg has added weight to the new Star Trek film as Scott and stolen Mission: Impossible from Tom Cruise. His other solo efforts have been fine but not earth-shattering. Now comes A Fantastic Fear of Everything, a comedy that relies heavily on Pegg’s obvious comic talents and he takes the bull by the horn and rides with it. Pity the film is a bit of a muddy then.
Jack is a writer of children’s books who is working on a series of scripts about serial killers in Victorian times. The problem is, since writing them it has made Jack increasingly paranoid. He spends sleepless nights wondering what the slightest noise is in his disorganised flat while a real life serial killer stalks the streets outside. What more, his literal agent wants him to meet up with a script editor and he hasn’t a thing to wear, so he is forced outside and visit a place of dread for Jack…the laundrette!
Written and directed by former Kula Shaker frontman Christian Mills, this is a film crammed with invention and vision and yet not a clue what to do with them. The real problem with the film is that once Jack leaves his apartment, where it’s at its funniest, it doesn’t really know what to do or where to go. The claustrophobic setting or a flat full of shadows and objects that represent everything that could make a paranoid even more fearful works wonderfully and it allows Pegg to let rip. Once that front door is closed behind him, the ideas run out of steam as do the gags.
Pegg is on full steam. Like a man who has been drinking a year’s supply of coffee, he is relentlessly energetic and during the solo scenes, he is utterly unstoppable, creating a delicious creation. And he is very funny. He has nothing in his way, the camera is on and he is on fire. That fire is dampened once he has to interact with less creative cast members and he seems to calm down, as if he doesn’t want to upstage everyone around him, whereas he should have gone for it.
Many of the later scenes fail to connect. The conversation between Pegg and psychiatrist Paul Freeman is distracted by a fantasy journey through make-believe woodlands, where you are watching the scenery but you lose what the two actors are talking about, which, in turn, is an important part of the plot. A sign of the visual interfering with the story. A nicely inventive animation of Jack Hedgehog character also fails to enhance the story. It’s a pity because Mills obviously has a keen eye but just cannot control it.
This is a film with real promise and with so many lazy, straight forward comedies out there; it’s nice to see something that tries to be different. A shame that in trying it loses its way. Still fans of Pegg will enjoy him on manic form and in the most disgusting under pants you are ever likely to see.