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The Match review

Describe the plot of The Match as paper thin and the nation's A4 manufacturers will have their defamation lawyers onto you like a shot. Boasting no hidden depths and barely a glimmer of a subplot, this tale of plucky no-hopers facing up to a highly trained opposition team that they have no earthly chance of beating is awe-inspiringly basic.

But that doesn't make Davis' debut feature a bad film. So what if it chugs languidly along towards Happy Ending Land? There are far worse crimes than that. It has a good-sized dollop of gentle charm, just enough beautiful scenery to keep the Highlands Tourist Board happy and a sufficiently offbeat selection of characters to distract audiences from the fact that nothing much is really happening.

The opening credits have barely finished rolling before Davis has introduced us to a philosophising bread-van driver (Bill Paterson) and a farmer (Cosmo) in love with one of his cows. Not to mention the intrepid lead: tragic young milkman Wullie (Beesley, from TV's Tom Jones) with his gimpy leg, his encyclopaedic knowledge of football and unspoken love for the daughter of the shop-keeper (the gorgeous Fraser).

Credit is also due to the first-time helmer for assembling a sound bunch of actors. There's Richard E Grant as the evilly camp bistro owner Gorgeous Gus, Ian Holm as his pissed-up rival Big Tam, Neil Morrissey behaving badly as monosyllabically offensive ex-pro Piss-Off and even Tom Sizemore as drunken, former fighter pilot Buffalo. True, they're playing TV-sized caricatures rather than big-screen characters; but they still turn in fuss-free performances for a small-time comedy that sets itself relatively low standards, yet nevertheless smacks them into the back of the net.

Sweet, light and unambitious, The Match never quite manages to emerge from the shadow of Local Hero and Whisky Galore! It'll provoke enough smiles to earn its keep but probably not enough belly-laughs to be a real success.

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