Mindhorn is out on my birthday (there is still time to send me your presents) and it seems appropriate.
From Alan Partridge to Nigel St. Hubbins to Clark Griswold, some of my favourite films and shows have been about idiotic men with an inflated opinions of themselves. Welcome to this group, Mindhorn. Or, to give him his ‘real’ name, Richard Thorncroft (played by The Mighty Boosh‘s Julian Barratt).
Thorncroft, you see, played the hero in the eponymous 80’s detective series set on the Isle of Man. Mindhorn was cool, louche and wore an eyepatch which could literally “see the truth”.
As with all moderately good things however, Mindhorn got the axe, sending Thorncroft into a career tailspin. Twenty-five years later, he is bald, fat and slipping further and further into obscurity when criminal mastermind/lunatic, The Kestrel (Russell Tovey), requests that Mindhorn return to the Isle of Man. Sensing an opportunity for a career resurgence – and perhaps a television reboot – Thorncroft dons the eyepatch of his fictional alter ego once more.
I saw Mindhorn at the Glasgow Film Festival so had zero expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s not a film that does anything particularly new – it’s part Alan Partridge, part Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and part Tropic Thunder – but it hits its comedy beats consistently and with confidence.
The all-too-brief clips from the television show are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and Barrett and writer Simon Farnaby (who also appears as ridiculous Dutch stereotype, Clive) make the most of the actor-as-detective moments. A scene in the police station as Thorncroft goes ‘full Mindhorn’ is excellent.
As with all these films, there’s a need for a redemptive arc and the middle section, in which Thorncroft unravels, is the least satisfying part. It’s too predicatble and, with Thorncroft shorn of his aloofless, struggles for gags.
Thankfully – and unlike many comedies – many of the biggest laughs land in the final third as Thorncroft finds himself trapped inside an over-sized Mindhorn costume, chasing the film’s Big Bad. It comes close to being too ridiculous, but it falls on the right side of silly.
Mindhorn is not a perfect comedy, but it’s charming, funny and makes the most of it’s unusual location.