After the warm response this received at its London Film Festival premiere last November, there were high hopes for Harold Smith. Director Hewitt's quirky track record (Bill 'N' Ted's Bogus Journey, The Borrowers) would seem to make him the ideal candidate for this mix of 70s nostalgia, sweet romance and eccentric heroism. The fact that the titular hero is played by masterful veteran Tom Courtenay could only up the ante. Only somewhere along the way, the writer decided Harold Smith, despite the title, was not the focus of the story. And that's where it all started to go wrong.
Instead, the plot puts young Vince Smith (Legge), Harold's son, to the fore, complete with irritating voiceover. He's a disco kid who knows he's destined for more than his current position of junior accountant at a blissfully bland firm, run with scene-stealing gusto by David Thewlis. He loves co-worker Joanna Robinson (Fraser), but sadly her secret life as a punk makes her inaccessible. In the background is dear old dad Harold. Ridiculed by his bed-hopping wife (Lulu), all he does is watch television and explode tortoises. Yes, tortoises, for Smith has a talent: he is a man who can move matter with his mind, only due to the violent results of some of his actions, he tends to go easy on the old spoon bending.
This may still sound intriguing, but it's badly executed. Funny cameos (Keith Chegwin, Angela Rippon) are wasted, as are both older (Courtenay, Thewlis) and younger (Fraser, Legge) talent. But most unforgivably, the period detail is all over the place and the punk/disco soundtrack a real hotch potch, leaving this a story with no real sense of time or place.