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Blu-ray Review

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Clockwise (1986)
(2019 4K Restoration)


Starring: John Cleese, Penelope Wilton, Alison Steadman, Stephen Moore and Sharon Maiden
Distributor: StudioCanal


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 19 November 2019

John Cleese plays a clock watching headmaster obsessed with timekeeping. When he boards the wrong train on his way to the headmasters' conference, however, his obsessive punctuality is put to the test. Turning back to find alternative means of transport, he hijacks one of his pupils who is taking the afternoon off school in her father's car. As the journey descends into further chaos, the head quickly begins to lose his schoolmasterly poise...

With a screenplay by acclaimed author and playwright Michael Frayn and supporting turns from Alison Steadman, Penelope Wilton and Joan Hickson, Clockwise was, on its original release, a rather clever, funny, but definitely a very British production. The fact it appeared too British for the studio to open it in major theatres in the USA was what prompted Cleese to make his next feature film: A Fish Called Wanda.

The story is also paper thin. You could write the plot on the back of a postage stamp. There's also the argument that the characters are a little poorly written. You don't really get to discover much about Laura and the additional travelling companion of Pat just slowed the pace down, watering down the potential comedy aspect of people mistakenly thinking the headmaster is having an affair with his pupil. Even Cleese's portrayal is a watered down Basil Fawlty... albeit a Basil Fawlty who is good at his job.

I was surprised to see how many familiar faces popped up throughout the movie - some barely speaking, but all famous for doing much more notable projects in the '80s-'90s.

It's not aged as gracefully as I'd hoped it would have, and it's certainly not as funny as I remember it being - although it still has some comedy moments that have stood the test of time a little better than other parts.


Darren Rea

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