Eye For Film >> Movies >> Whatever Happened To Harold Smith? (1999) Film Review
Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
The dismal decline in the quality of British films continues apace. This apology for a comedy, in which a gauche 18-year-old can't get a girl and his dad turns out to be Sheffield's answer to Yuri Geller, is achingly embarrassing, especially when Stephen Fry strips naked in order to give his daughter a sex lesson.
It is 1977, "the year of the Fever". Vince (Michael Legge - teenage Frank in Angela's Ashes) knows all the Travolta steps and practices in front of the mirror. He works as a clerk in a posey solicitor's office and fancies Joanna (Laura Fraser) rotten. She works there, too, and keeps giving him hints that's she's keen for a date, but he's so half-baked, he fails to pick up on them.
His dad (Tom Courtenay) sits at home, with a pipe in his mouth, watching telly, while his mum (Lulu) sneaks out at night to snog the lads at the club. When his dad starts doing his magic tricks - bends spoons, stops watches, makes tortoises float in mid air - he becomes famous for all the wrong reasons.
Stephen Fry? What in heaven's name is he doing playing an anally retentative jogger, with a privet hedge on his chin and the body of strawberry blancmange. It beggars belief. The man is bigger than this - remember Wilde?
Courtenay does his humble cloth-capped Northern impersonation of a quiet man dying of boredom, while Lulu is rather sensational. She looks great, acts with gusto (need some of that round here) and doesn't seem to mind playing a sex starved housewife, gagging for toys. It is not Legge's fault that Vince is such a no-hoper. "Why don't you just do something?" Joanna taunts at one point. When he tries, it's pathetic.
Fraser has a beautiful smile. She's been working her heart out in bad Brit flicks for some time now. She needs a break. This is not it.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001