Wild About Harry review

Father Ted, Cold Feet, The Grimleys: there's no knocking director Declan Lowney's CV when it comes to TV. Still, maybe that's what keeps his feature debut feeling less like a full-bodied film than a sitcom with pretensions. It's packed with incident, for sure, but a shortage of substance is the trouble with this Harry.

Still, at least Brendan Gleeson has a good crack at the portly, titular TV chef who goes from having a touch of the Bulworths (he can't stop telling the truth on his show) to a bad dose of Big/Vice Versa syndrome, as he wakes from a coma to find that he's forgotten his entire adult life. Gleeson has the right befuddled, puffy face for an 18-year-old in a bloke's body, and the film peaks as his son - who hates his errant old man - takes every comic advantage of Harry's state possible.

But Wild About Harry doesn't cut it as a rom-com about two forty-somethings who've ballsed up their lives. Writer Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack) makes a cack-handed job of it, squandering any hope of empathy for his characters by turning them into mouthpieces for such obvious messages as: "If you had your life to live again, what would you change?" Sadly, Amanda Donohoe gets lumbered with most of this slush, which doesn't do this unremarkable actress any favours.

Even Gleeson can't do much with Bateman's BBC sitcom-style gags about how rude carrots look. Bateman tries hard to satirise TV here, but from the way the film does nothing interesting with its Belfast backdrop to its throwaway subplot about a bisexual MP whose career Harry ruins on live TV, he shoots himself in the foot.

Knob gags? Sexual scandals among "happily married" politicians? Frankly, this would've worked better spread out over six 30-minute instalments.

Declan Lowney's feature debut isn't bad as a gleefully malicious comedy, but Colin Bateman's script features too much ill-nourished rom-com schmaltz and satire without edge. Wild about Harry? Naaaah, lukewarm at best.

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