Up 'N' Under


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Up 'N' Under
"Godber's script is as predictable as sleet on a waterlogged pitch."

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.

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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