Mrs Brown’s Boys: D’Movie: The film is out and it's dreadful

But who cares what one snobby critic thinks when box office takings are going through the roof, asks Archie Bland

Asked to comment on the international success of Mrs Brown’s Boys recently, Brendan O’Carroll explained his view that Irishness can travel well, with reference to his cultural forebears. “We have to have more faith in the audience,” he said. “Look, Sean O’Casey’s plays have toured all over the world. Ulysses is required reading at universities all over the world. Somewhere along the line, that inferiority complex set in.”

That complex, I reflected as I settled in at a Cineworld at 10.40am earlier this week, does not appear to have affected O’Carroll himself. It takes nerve to translate your studio sitcom to the big screen, and if the mastermind of Mrs Brown’s Boys: D’Movie isn’t comparable to James Joyce in every respect, he certainly shares his unflinching self-belief. Indeed, the film’s producers were sufficiently confident in their product that they decided to do without the usual screenings for critics.

Rory Cowan, who plays Mrs Brown’s son, explained the thinking with reference to the show’s former run-ins with the press: “The critics were totally irrelevant, it didn’t matter what they said, so about 10 years ago, we stopped letting them come along,” he said. “I couldn’t care less what some journalists say about us.” Can’t argue with that, really. While this move doesn’t usually portend that the movie in question is a classic, you can’t blame O’Carroll and his cohorts for concluding that the views of the critics are so beside the point. On the opening weekend, Mrs Brown’s army of fans propelled it to a hefty £4.3m across the UK and Ireland. It still stands atop the box office chart today.

When I call Peter Bennett-Jones, the agent and producer who was behind the big-screen transitions of Mr Bean, and Kevin and Perry, to ask for an explanation of this phenomenon, he’s pretty blunt. “No one is going to see these movies on the basis of reviews anyway,” he says. “If you’re a producer you’re more worried about what the paying audience think.”

Shane Allen, the BBC’s Comedy Commissioning Controller, agrees. He points to a snobbery in the comedy world, too. “Some of it goes back to when alternative comedy came along,” he says. “A lot of the tastemakers were forged in the fire of that. They think the only interesting comedy is pioneering. Well, you always have to have those things, but there will always be a residual love of the studio sitcom.”

 

Anyway, irrelevant though they may be, the few critics who have ventured to the multiplex to see the sitcom’s big-screen incarnation have not been wildly enthusiastic. And while I rather cringed at the prospect of joining their snooty ranks, I’m afraid I can’t say I laughed, or even smiled, once in the whole godforsaken 93 minutes.

Before we get to the main action, in which Mrs Brown does battle with some tiresome Russian villains who have designs on her market stall, we get her voiceover detailing the location of the cinema’s fire exits. “Find a male,” she adds, “in case we have to ejaculate the building.” Ejaculate! Sounds like evacuate, means something rude. Route one stuff, but the other two people in the cinema, 86-year-old Alice Chambers and her daughter Carol, absolutely lose it at this point, and are rarely completely composed for the next hour and a half. “Five out of five,” Alice says afterwards. “A proper comedy with jokes in. Didn’t you like it? Why did you come, then?”

Last laugh: Mrs Brown’s creator Brendan O’Carroll Last laugh: Mrs Brown’s creator Brendan O’Carroll

Because someone made me, Alice, that’s why. I’m afraid her mildly menacing enthusiasm did not win me over. Mrs Brown works, on its own terms, as a wonky but energetic sitcom; on the big screen, it’s a catastrophe. Where the show is fast, prickly and anarchic, the movie is slow, sentimental, and altogether cynical. As far as the jokes go, it turns out they don’t really come off without the raucous laughter of a devoted studio audience to paper over the cracks.

All this will put me in Mr O’Carroll’s bad books as one of those snobby metropolitan sorts. Well, fine. I don’t see why anyone is obliged to like it just because it does well at the box office, though. There’s something weird, and a bit tyrannical, about the idea that critics are somehow doing their job wrong by expressing an opinion that dares diverge from the popular verdict.

In any case, it doesn’t really matter. It is now absolutely clear that Mrs Brown is a slating-proof juggernaut. And the commercial hit that goes down badly with the reviewers provides plenty of compensations, even for the sensitive filmmaker. “You brace yourself for being traduced,” says Peter Bennett-Jones. “And then you take $250m. That puts a pretty big smile on your face.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the movie There Will Be Blood
music
Arts and Entertainment
Brush with greatness: the artist Norman Cornish in 1999
art
Life and Style
Stress less: relaxation techniques can help focus the mind and put problems in context
art
Arts and Entertainment

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment