Outside Bet

Outside Bet


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

There is a certain amount of retro charm to Sacha Bennett's film tale of print union strife and racing but it never really manages to break free from the small-screen shadow of the likes of Only Fools And Horses.

Based on The Mumper, by Mark Baxter and Paolo Hewitt, and adapted for the screen by Nigel Bennett, the nostalgia is as thick as the smoke that pervades every corner of the cockney boozer where the central characters spend their spare time.

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Calum MacNab puts in a warm, cheeky chappy appearance in the lead role of Baxter, a newcomer to the print trade that his dad Threads (Phil Davis) has worked in all his life and that he hopes will bring the same length of service to him. This being Thatcher-era Britain, though, union showdowns lurk in the fringes, with union father of the chapel Smudge (Bob Hoskins, underused) ready for action.

Baxter has altogether more immediate problems than redundancy after Threads is diagnosed with cancer - and in a bid to do something for his betting crazy old man, he hatches a dream scheme to get everyone to invest in a race horse. Television level 'gorblimey guv'nor' comedy ensues, with the likeable cast, including Adam Deacon, Jason Maza and Rita Tushingham, raising the odd laugh here and there but it is the more serious scenes - such as a nicely paced moment between Tushingham and Hoskins - that work much better. The social backdrop sits unevenly with the more familiar 'will the horse win the big race?' narrative trajectory and the film lurches from scene to scene rather than moving with any sort of fluidity.

Tension in the final section is never enough to send pulses galloping, making this more of a trot over well-trodden ground than a hot tip.

Reviewed on: 08 May 2012
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Outside Bet packshot
A group of printers invest in a racehorse.
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Director: Sacha Bennett

Writer: Nigel Smith

Starring: Calum MacNab, Bob Hoskins, Adam Deacon, Philip Davis, Rita Tushingham, Perry Benson, Jason Maza

Year: 2012

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


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