Almost Married (2014) – Review

Portents. You should always pay attention to them. If a naked car mechanic runs straight at you, brandishing a semi-automatic weapon, with his manhood flapping about like an ungrilled Walls’ banger, you should probably run. Or at least try very hard to hide. Very hard. I will say no more than ‘the signs were there’.

Two things. Firstly, Emily Atack may well look like a younger version of Brigitte Bardot, but if she’d been born forty or fifty years earlier, she’d be more of a Barbara Windsor than anything, and secondly, if you were spending your nights with this woman, would you really risk it by knobbing some scabby, disease-ridden piece of tramp-filth in some grotty geordie brothel on your stag night?

Both of these things, I believe, are entirely relevant. For the following pertinent reasons. One, Almost Married is ludicrously unrealistic in regards to its payoff and two, if Atack ever wants to be seen as anything more than a pretty, mostly available, blonde you’d rather see in her pants than acting with any kind of credibility, then she really has to stop parading about in movies aimed for Zoo & Nuts readers.

Unlike many critics that will take all too much glee out of lambasting this effort for its mysoginistic overtones, there are those of us out there that can still appreciate poor taste. But only if it’s done well. By well, I mean it has to be funny. Am I bothered whether it paints an ugly picture of these men? Not a bit of it. And that’s because there are men out there just like this. Alot of them, in fact. You don’t see it too often in the movies, because film-makers don’t really want to appear mysoginistic themselves, but this where the reality ends. Not exactly the best calling card, now is it? The Inbetweeners get away with it because they are funny. The writing is outstanding. Good enough, in fact, to almost make Emily Atack look more talented than she really is.

Almost Married does not enjoy the same level of writing excellence as the television show from where she came, and subsequently, she comes across as almost ordinary by comparison. She looks great, of course, but if you’re an aspiring young actor, wanting to be respected for the work you do, does a review telling everyone how hot you are fill you with pride? If so, you may well be in the wrong business, and may benefit from making an altogether different kind of film.

A few months before he is due to get married, our luckless lothario Kyle (Philip McGinley) goes on his stag night. Why this has to be done quite so far in advance of the magical day is never really questioned. It fits a plot that requires three long months of abstinence, but that can really be the only reason. During his stag night he drunkenly visits a brothel with best man Jarvis (Mark Stobbart). Again, conveniently for the plot, he forgets about everything that happened when he was there, apart from some misty recollections about the prostitute he spent his allotted time with.

Shortly afterwards, when he starts to exhibit some rather unfortunate side effects of his night of passion with this sex worker, in the trouser department, he assumes that the cost of his visit to this den of iniquity goes much further than the strain on his wallet. Fearing that his bethrothed, Lydia (the aformentioned Emily Atack), will find out about his indiscretion, he goes about trying to avoid any kind of ‘relations’ with her, as surely he will pass on god knows what kind of disease to her too.

The rest of the film revolves mostly around Kyle and Jarvis finding ways for Kyle to avoid having sex with his hot fiancee. It doesn’t help that she really wants a bit of it too.

You might think that from the rather lengthy synopsis that this story wouldn’t be out of place if The Two Ronnies were playing it out on their seventies sketch show. It did have the potential to become an unfunny farce if it were given the chance to be any more ridiculous than it actually ended up being. There are definite moments where the seriousness and gravity of these characters situations are highlighted, but they are few and far between. On occasion, the film feels like it is almost bordering on a public health warning about the dangers of unprotected sex, and you can easily see this finding its way to year ten biology lessons in the not too distant future. That’s right kids, sex can be fun, but it can also be a nightmare. Let’s watch this film and find out more!

Pleasingly, there is a little more to it than just the opportunity for furtive, uncomfortable squirming and knob gags (although there is plenty of both). There are rare moments of reflection and genuine warmth, particularly between Kyle and Jarvis. McGinley’s Kyle is a bit of a plonker, all told, and is easily swayed by the more adventurous and cocksure Jarvis. Kyle is portrayed as having more of a soul, but if this was designed to make the audience empathise with the character, then it will have fallen on deaf ears. It is not until near the films’ completion that we get an opportunity to see Kyle for what he really is and by this time, it’s a little too late. Atack’s Lydia is completely one-dimensional and not really worth the time it took to film her. This is through little fault of Atack, however, as the character of Lydia is almost criminally underwritten and deserved more screen time. The story of the bromance of Kyle and Jarvis takes centre-stage practically throughout the entire film, with Atack and the extended families used as filler between these two men talking, well, mostly bollocks, really.

Honestly, this is sadly disappointing stuff from first time feature writer/director Ben Cookson, but as its his first stab at a feature, you can’t knock his ability with his perfectly acceptable shot choices, but he might want to steer clear of any writing responsibilities in future. All in all, this comedy raised the occasional titter, but never so much as a belly laugh throughout. If something makes you grimace more often than it makes you smile, and yet it isn’t a horror movie, then you might have to ask yourself why.

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