Made in Britain: Kill Keith
I am sure I’ve ranted about this before, but if there’s one genre that we really are atrocious at in the 21st Century, then that’s comedy. We’re turning out classy horror after classy horror, have a nice line in gritty action and are all over misery porn, but since Shaun of the Dead, I can’t honestly think of a worthwhile comedy. Not one. This is astonishing, because we have a strong legacy with comedy (if you ignore most of the Carry on Films) dating all the way back to Ealing in the 30’s. Yet, something in the 21st Century seems to have gone pear shaped, and every comedy I’ve seen is about as funny as an Aussie DJ’s prank phone call. So, when Kill Keith landed on my doorstep, despite me knowing next to nothing about it, I wasn’t particularly hopeful, in fact, all I wanted was that someone was actually going to kill Keith Chegwin. Preferably messily.
Kill Keith is a terrible idea. A truly rotten one, actually. Basically, they’ve made a comedy horror featuring lovable cheggers and murdering recognisable z-list UK celebs in various truly unfunny ways. The actual meat of the story is the shenanigans at a TV station in the appointment of a new presenter for the coveted breakfast slot. Our window into the action is through an annoying fumbletrumpet called Danny (Lee Pickering) who is carrying a torch for presenter Dawn (Susannah Fielding). The rest of the cast is made up of washed up British “personalities” such as Joe Pasquale, Tony Blackburn, Russel Grant and so forth (aside from an utterly wasted Simon Phillips of White Collar Hooligan). Basically, someone (oh alright, it’s Cheggers, fucking spoiler) is murdering the contenders for the spot on the sofa- can Danny save the day? Shenanigans and hilarity fail to ensue, and I get grumpier and grumpier as the film meanders its painful way to the conclusion.
Actually, the opening scene of Kill Keith is a gem. It pops up with a genuinely well thought out and cheeky dig at 3D (this film is shown in special 2D vision) that made me laugh, and the opening sequence suggests that there’s a lot of promise here with the horrible breakfast TV show “Crack of Dawn” being a note perfect dig at the banal and dismally depressing 2 cretins on a sofa style of television. A particularly nice touch is the “Cheggers knocks you up” segment, with Keith Chegwin himself (ludicrously chirpy washed up British TV presenter) knocking on people’s front door to disastrous effect being genuinely witty.
The problem here is that for the most part this is a comedy horror that’s neither funny nor scary. For example, there’s a running joke with Tony Blackburn being played by Joe Tracini, while his lookalike is played by, er, Tony Blackburn. This is as unfunny as it sounds. As if this wasn’t lame enough, we’re frequently treated to Scrubs style imagination inserts, showing us what is really going on in Danny’s head, which includes the frankly fucking weird re-enactment of the notorious Frankie Goes to Hollywood Relax video.
Be still my aching sides.
Aside from the opening scene, there are two other notably amusing moments in the film. Both of which I’m about to spoil. The first is the running gag about how easy the question of the day is. If you’ve ever seen Richard and Judy, you’ll know where I’m going here. Basically, because the people that watch this type of drecky TV are either unemployed or otherwise homebound, they run a daily competition where the public calls in to answer some pisstakingly easy multiple choice question. The ones here are spot on in their stupidity, arguably, actually, requiring a bit more thought than usual. When the film culminates with Cheggers screaming the right answer and calling the great British Public Morons, I kind of agreed with him. The other joke that’s worthwhile is the outgoing TV presenters jabs at Dawn on air- I did laugh when he made his joke about “someone new filling the crack of dawn, and we know what a large gap that is”. He’s vainglorious, cretinous, self-obsessed and bizarrely conceited and it’s well played by David Easter.
However, the vast, vast majority of jokes here don’t work. Furthermore, the horror scenes (which are suitably bizarre, but seem to exist for the laboured and frankly unfunny pun “Cereal Killer”) aren’t frightening. Particularly lame is squeaky-voiced cockwomble Joe Pasquale’s check out, which involves a monkey suit and breakfast cereal. Rubbish, frankly. I know this is meant to be somewhat light hearted, but as a piece of black comedy, the killing sequences simply blow.
Most of the acting is OK. The various wash ups do a decent job (Blackburn is probably the best of them) and the more professional actors do at least try. Pickering is mildly annoying in the lead, but that’s more down to the writing that never gives him a fighting chance than the performance itself. Fielding, on the other hand, has a better stab at it, but the Dawn character is so heavily underwritten that it makes me wonder why they didn’t get a proper presenter to do the job. Seriously, almost anyone could do this.
With one exception: Cheggers himself. Keith is on blazing form here sending himself and his chirpy persona up. He puts in such a titanic shift that he almost single-handedly carries the film. Sadly, it’s far too much of a burden for one happy geordie to lift, but he’s clearly having a blast. Watch out for his incredibly chirpy press conference at the start when the presenters are being knocked off and it’s hard not to regret that the rest of the film wasn’t of this calibre. The film is also quite clever with how it uses him- he’s obviously the trump card, so they don’t overplay it and when he does pop up, there’s a noticeable lift and it flirts with being mildly enjoyable.
Overall, this is wank. Cheggers tries hard, but for a comedy horror it’s neither consistently funny nor scary and as such Kill Keith is an abject failure. To the film’s credit, it didn’t go the Scary Movie route, but it is a crying shame that they didn’t replace it with something actually funny instead. I was actually tempted to do a Spinal Tap type review, and just label this film as a shit sandwich, and in all honesty, I probably should have.
Kill Keith is as lame as the Breakfast TV it spoofs, and can, frankly, fuck off.