Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?

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.

Copy picture

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
Share this with others on...
A disco fan finds his love life in hot water after his dad discovers he has pyschic powers.
Amazon link

Director: Peter Hewitt

Writer: Ben Steiner

Starring: Tom Courtenay, Michael Legge, Laura Fraser, Stephen Fry, Lulu, David Thewlis

Year: 1999

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Search database: