I'll Be There

I'll Be There


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It is difficult to understand why Craig Ferguson isn't funny. He's immensely attractive, likeable and all those things you want your dad to be, but his name isn't Billy and you can tell the difference. Not that he's attempting a Connolly cloneage. Attractive and likeable will do, maybe. The Scots are good at that, when they're not playing the hard man.

I'll Be There is definitely his baby; he is the star, co-writer and director. The buck stops, as they say. And it does, unfortunately. Wish that it were otherwise.

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The film is so sentimental, it suffers from soft bone syndrome. "I'm a happy guy," Bill Kerr (Ferguson) says. "I'm rich and I'm Scottish. It doesn't get any better than that."

Kerr is a reclusive, alcoholic pop star, who discovers, after being dragged away to the loony bin, that he has a 16-year-old daughter (Charlotte Church), called Olivia, living in Cardiff with her mum, Rebecca (Jemma Redgrave), who is overprotective, uptight, strict and sexually on the wagon. The loony bin business follows a drunken episode in his stately mansion, when he rides a motor bike through an upstairs window into a fish pond, and the doctors think he's suicidal.

The story, as you can imagine, is about father and daughter getting together, Bill and Rebecca finding each other again and Kerr coming off the juice. The script is nothing like tough enough. The high spot is Joss Ackland belting out rock-and-roll classics in a pub. He plays Olivia's 70-year-old granddad, who is still on the road with Evil Edmunds & The Beelzebops.

In addition to Ackland, there are some memorable performances, especially Redgrave. The casting of Church in her first acting role was a brave one. On the whole it works, because she has natural self-confidence, and when it comes to singing, which it has to, she's entirely at home.

Occasionally, the script lights a spark, but it doesn't take. Swamped by sweetness, the humour drowns. When feelgood feels queasy, take as sick bag. It saves on dry cleaning.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2003
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I'll Be There packshot
Craig Ferguson is an alcoholic pop star who discovers that Charlotte Church is his daughter.
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Director: Craig Ferguson

Writer: Craig Ferguson, Philip McGrade

Starring: Craig Ferguson, Jemma Redgrave, Charlotte Church, Joss Ackland, Ralph Brown, Imelda Staunton, Ian McNeice

Year: 2003

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/UK


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