Almost 20 years ago, Bill Forsyth wrote and directed a hugely popular comedy which showcased a young Scottish cast and presented Celtic locations at their best. Now he's made a follow-up. His star, the one-time schoolgirl-in-football-kit obsessed teenager Gregory, is now a schoolgirl-in-football-kit obsessed teacher. He's unwilling to grow up and face his responsibilities, one of which includes dating women no longer in school uniform, like fellow teacher Bel. So the scene is set for a mid-life-crisis comedy in which Gregory revisits the locations of the first film to provide in-jokes and emerge from his love triangle with some sort of dignity.
Only he doesn't. Few people do. Because somewhere between conceiving the sequel and committing it to celluloid, Forsyth must have had a brain-fit. Admittedly, his track record since Local Hero has been erratic (has anyone seen Robin Williams in Being Human?) but you'd hope that he'd have been able to capture the same sense of humour, make something that was uniquely Scottish and, once again, provide a showcase for some local talent.
In the latter, at least, he succeeds because Carly McKinnon, as Frances, is intriguing and attractive enough to lure Gregory away from his safe life. But she suffers, as does Bel, in having her part underwritten. The female characters are mere symbols of opposite types of women. Likewise, supporting characters are neither rounded nor interesting and the quirks evident in the first film are gone. So, for instance, you get a local boy made good who is supposed to be an evil baron and yet behaves with naïve stupidity, revealing a soft spot for Gregory that goes far beyond comprehension.
And this is the main problem: Gregory is neither likeable nor funny - - just a bit sad and pathetic. He's not enough of a hero (and not enough of an anti-hero, for that matter) to provide a focus for the story, and the subplot involving computer software made for torture is ridiculous and out-of-date.