Eye For Film >> Movies >> Under The Mud (2006) Film Review
After his mum dies, Magic (Lenny Wood) takes refuge with the Potts, a sprawling, dysfunctional, family. Parents Sally (Lisa Parry) and Joe (Andrew Schofield) are constantly sniping at each other, older brother Paul (Dave Hart) smokes too much cannabis and when not stoned is deeply contemptuous of everyone except Magic. Seventeen-year-old Paula (Lauren Steele) is the oblivious object of Magic’s attentions, and still insists on a space at the dinner table for her imaginary friend. Then add little brother Karl (Adam Bailey), a precocious petrolhead whose obsession with cars is getting out of control, and the youngest, Olivia (Jasmine Mubery), a little princess and the most sensible of the whole family. Finally, Nan (Kate Fitzgerald) zips around in her wheelchair putting all in their place, and the newest addition to the family is a pug whose name generates endless riffs (“Stop lickin’ me, Bollocks!”).
On Olivia’s first communion, the family is right on the edge, and to make matters worse a menacing figure from the Potts’ past reappears from the past to settle a score, just as the afterparty is getting going. Magic is the one who seems to care most about keeping them all together, but as the night wears on and things get out of control, can he save the Potts single-handedly?
Set in a rough-and-ready suburb of Liverpool, Garston, Under The Mud was written by a group of young locals with two actor/comedians from the area at the helm, Mick Colligan and Lenny Wood. Wood does a seamless turn as the sweet and sensitive slacker Magic, who pines after Georgina and just wants to hold onto the only family he has left. He plays it mostly with comic pathos, but convincingly brings out a heroic side to Magic too.
The younger and less experienced members of the cast hold up their end, too. Adam Bailey is priceless as little brother Karl, who’s not yet into double figures but has the smartest mouth of the family, and the absurd banter between Paula, imaginary friend Georgina and real (but incomprehensible) best mate Laura is thoroughly entertaining.
The writers have put together a funny, frequently surreal and occasionally touching script that fleshes out a fairly slender and contrived plot, and the whole is imaginatively put together, experimenting with visual effects and animation (though the latter feels unnecessary, even intrusive). Under The Mud should also be applauded for its clever use of location and local landmarks – not least John Lennon Airport’s landing strip – and a great soundtrack that keeps things moving at a brisk pace. They also take care to camouflage any potentially soppy bits (of which there are a few) with one-liners – a touch that works well and helps the film finish with a bang rather than trailing off into rom-com territory.
An original and entertaining debut from a collective boasting much potential, Under The Mud effortlessly endears an anarchic family to us. In this Liverpool fairytale, life’s not so much grim up north as stark raving bonkers.Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2010