Up 'N' Under

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Full Monty/Brassed Off formula seems destined to run and run. John Godber's clapped out, beer-bellied, rugby league tossers are more unfit than Robert Carlyle's bunch of redundant steel workers and yet all they need is an injection of good old-fashioned northern pride. It makes t'heart leap, like.

Arthur (Gary Olsen) is a few weeks short of 40 and feeling the onset of scrapheapitis. His playing days are over. His one-man-one-van painting and decorating biz wipes its face. His wife, Doreen, thinks he's a pillock and her dad, who stays with them, eats his dinner most nights before he gets home. He sees his arch enemy, Reg Welsh (Tony Slattery), a working-class lad made good, flashing his nouveau riche accoutrements and mouthing off about his team, The Cobblers Arms, which wins the local amateur Sevens gala every time.

Arthur bets him all the money he and Doreen have saved over the years that he can train a team, any team, in three weeks to beat The Cobblers. Reg shakes on it and chooses The Wheatsheaf Arms for Arthur, knowing that this shower couldn't do damage to a blind school's Under-14s. They have six players and most of them only turn up for the beer in the pub afterwards.

Arthur persuades Hazel (Samantha Janus) to help out. She owns a gym and is a fitness fanatic. She's also blonde and definite Blind Date material. The lads feel the burn and almost die. The training sessions become a slob's charter to sweat freely and expose flab. Hazel doesn't even get paid. She does it for love of the underdog.

Godber's script is as predictable as sleet on a waterlogged pitch. It lacks the bravado of his early theatre work, such as Bouncers. Olsen is a John Goodman lookalike and the rest appear to have been picked for their absence of sex appeal (exception Janus, who overloads on the stuff). Whenever stuck for aural furnishing a pop song is slotted onto the soundtrack and Godber's use of slow-mo takes precedent over anything more inventive. Griff Rhys-Jones' cameo as a radio hack comes across as a TV sketch, awkwardly out of place amongst these natural piss-takers, while the late Brian Glover, as Doreen's opinionated dad, gives a memorable farewell performance, stamping his authority on proceedings, like the old pro he was.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Up 'N' Under packshot
British comedy about a man who wagers he can create a winning rugby team from the worst players available.
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Director: John Godber

Writer: John Godber

Starring: Gary Olsen, Tony Slattery, Samantha Janus, Neil Morrissey, Brian Glover, Griff Rhys Jones, Richard Ridings, Ralph Brown, Adrian Hood, David MacCreedy, Susan Tully, John Thomson

Year: 1997

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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If you like this, try:

The Full Monty
Grow Your Own