The Calcium Kid

The Calcium Kid


Reviewed by: Andrea Mullaney

I have sat through worse films than The Calcium Kid. But not many. Not enough, say, to count on the fingers of one hand.

Still, it has its good points. One is that the cast and crew of much rubbished Sex Lives Of The Potato Men will no longer have to feel like the pariahs of the British film industry all on their own, as director Alex De Rakoff and his co-writers Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel join them in the dunces' corner.

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And then there's Orlando Bloom, the prettiest young thing to make you need to coin a male equivalent for the term ingénue. Most, who see the movie - they'll have to be quick, once word gets out - will see it for him. His small-but-perfectly formed roles in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and then Pirates Of The Caribbean won him a huge adoring fanbase, but neither Legolas, nor Will Turner, were demanding acting jobs. They basically required him to gaze moodily from mountain tops and play straight man to Johnny Depp, which he did very well.

In upcoming Troy, he'll play another supporting role, but with ready-made pin-up status and a national film industry desperate for a home-grown star to fill the roles even ubiquitous Ewan McGregor can't manage, The Calcium Kid is his chance to show if he can carry a movie as the lead.

Unfortunately, he's been lumbered with one of the most awful scripts in years, made worse by leaden direction, from a budget probably put together after saving up milk bottle tops.

Bloom plays Jimmy, the cutest milkman in the east (of London), where, unaccountably, it's still the norm for everyone to have bottles of whole milk delivered daily to their doorsteps. Not the brightest pinta in the crate, the son of a cut-rate hooker and a jailbird, with an impressive line in meaningless clichés, Jimmy has - in Beano comic style - developed super strong bones through drinking so much of the white stuff - one wonders if the Milk Marketing Board stumped up some production cash.

Thus, he accidentally knocks out the twice-his-size boxer, who's about to face the world middleweight champion, a week before the big fight. Dodgy promoter Omid Djalili decides to put up Jimmy as a makeweight contender, so that the bout can go ahead, much to the astonishment of all and sundry

Nominally set in the present day, the general air is of something left over from 1973, though even then its pained humour about randy housewives in negligees, drunken Irishmen and dollybirds would have been dated. In fact, it could easily have fit into the dreadful Robin Askwith series as Confessions Of A Milkman.

No obvious pun is left unpunned, no cheap entendre is left undoubled. Poor Billie Piper pops up, with only three lines, one of which is, "Excuse me, could I have my knockers back please?", as if being married to Chris Evans wasn't punishment enough. Djalili overacts. David Kelly is terrible as a begorrah stereotype. Even the normally reliable, such as Ronni Ancona, as Jimmy's mum, and Michael Pena, as the pretentious Mexican-American title-holder, are defeated by lousy dialogue and clunkingly obvious plotlines.

To make matters worse, the whole thing is framed as a documentary, made by an inept nice-but-dim filmmaker. Then, three-quarters of the way through, there's a horribly misjudged lurch into social commentary, as Jimmy is accidentally believed to be a neo-Nazi and condemned on the front page of The Sun.

The film comes from the Working Title stable, whose last release was the smart and effective Shaun Of The Dead, which made a virtue of its low budget. The Calcium Kid, on the other hand, looks like it ran out of money on the last reel, coming up with a random ending to get around the fact that the production obviously couldn't afford to finish what it had started.

Bloom, himself, is not actually bad, valiantly managing to inject some sweetness into his role. With a decent script, he could probably do a lot better. But his charm and winsome expressions are not nearly enough to save the movie from being an outstandingly embarrassing experience, which made me alternately bored, hysterical and wanting to hide under the seat.

It's not so awful, it's good, by the way. It's just awful.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2004
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The Calcium Kid packshot
Cockney milkman becomes a professional boxer entirely by mistake.
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Director: Alex De Rakoff

Writer: Alex De Rakoff, Derek Boyle, Raymond Friel

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Omid Djalili, Michael Pena, Rafe Spall, Ronni Ancona, David Kelly

Year: 2004

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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