20 years after they last performed, public demand calls for Strange Fruit, one of the 70s hottest bands to be reunited. Keyboard player Tony, sets about putting the band back together, but finds them distincly less rock and roll than before.
Funnier than The Blues Brothers, smarter than This Is Spinal Tap Still Crazy is an unashamedly British and unerringly hilarious film that'll have you laughing like a loon. Written by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais the comic geniuses who brought us most of the small screen's funniest half-hours, it mines the same rich vein of character, credibility and humour that the pair plundered while helping adapt Roddy Doyle's The Commitments for the big screen. And the good news is, this will sit alongside it as one of the best music comedies ever. Twenty years after an act of God put paid to the career of 70s rock legends Strange Fruit, acts of nostalgia and coincidence get them back together again. Down-on-his-luck keyboard player Tony (Rea, with an English accent) goes to the hotel where the band's old PA (Juliet Aubrey) now works as a conference organiser, with a plan to reform the band and raise some cash. And so the idea spreads to bassist-turned-builder Les (Nail), drummer-turned-gardener Beano (Spall) and egomaniac singer-turned-rather poorer egomaniac singer Ray (Bill Nighy). The old drug-casualty guitarist has bequeathed his royalties to charity, so with the help of a young stand-in (Hans Matheson) they set off for a water-testing tour of continental bars. The gags come thick (especially from Spall) and fast (chiefly from Connolly). But there is much pathos and credibility oozing from the storyline. Cameos from Zoe Ball and Frances Barber aside, the performances are bang on the money making Nighy's show-stealing turn as the dried-out prima donna singer with a domineering Swedish wife (Helena Bergstrom) all the more remarkable.
Though cinematically unadventurous, this is brilliantly observed and perfectly pitched. Every scene is a joy, every line one to remember. This could just be this year's answer to The Full Monty a British film speaking the international language of laugh