Posted February 15th, 2010 by Screengeek in Film, Reviews
Shooting Pictures, in cinemas 12th February 2010
“Don’t be impotent, be important”, so say lifelong friends Mark and Brian, who set out to become the first cabon neutral, vegetarian and organic unsupported team to reach the North Pole. Why? To save the planet from global warming (Mark) and get into the Guinness Book of World Records (Brian).
Shot mockumentary style by comedy director David L. Williams, this extremely likeable adventure crosses Peep Show-style banter with a huge, planet-hugging heart. Williams very cleverly knows the best way to win people over is to send yourself up, so our earnest environmentalist Mark (Stephen Mangan, Green Wing) is introduced to us taking on a 4×4 with his bicycle – “it’s like Tiananmen Square”. Meanwhile, the puppy-like Brian (Rhys Thomas, The Fast Show) is just happy to go for the laugh, and potential glory, oblivious to the worries of his devoted girlfriend Sandra (Rosie Cavaliero).
It’s all being filmed for posterity by Becky (Helen Baxendale, who executive produces), so we get to see how woefully and comically underprepared they are. But despite everyone’s reservations, the pair, plus a trigger-happy cameraman, get on their way, communicating regularly with Mark’s “second best mate” Graham (Mark Benton) in his high-tech caravan HQ.
The humour starts off wry and satirical, before some golden moments on the ice with True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard’s cameo as one half of a Norwegian couple on the same mission. A hysterical encounter with a biscuit sets off a madness in Mark, as he and Brian are understandably struggling to cope with their trek. Brian is distracted by the knowledge he is a father-to-be with Sandra, who has several touching and funny moments back in England. However, Mark has lost his wife and home and has nothing to lose. It’s at this point things take a more sober tone, and the shift in the storytelling method feels like an unwelcome jolt. By the time you are genuinely moved at the end, you would’ve forgotten you started watching a comedy. Neither as funny nor profound as it would probably like to be, Beyond The Pole is still to be enjoyed as a fun adventure with two endearingly heroic, if shambolic, leads.
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