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“The world doesn’t need clowns anymore. We’re fax machine. We’re travel agents. We’re obsolete.” There’s a few folks out there who’d be inclined agree with that sentiment (you know who you are), from this here comedy romp, Apocalypse Clown. After watching it, the notion would be unequivocal because sending a fax used to be far more entertaining.
Ireland has produced some real cinematic gems on modest budgets in recent years, but sadly this isn’t one of them. Nor will it change your outlook if you suffer from coulrophobia – a fear of clowns in layman’s terms.
A bunch of the red-nosed misfits – Bobo (David Earl), Funzo (Natalie Palamides) and Pepe (Fionn Foley) – seem to have fallen upon hard times, when a mysterious solar power incident occurs, plunging the Emerald Isle into a state of anarchy. Along with burnt-out journalist Jenny Malone (Amy De Bhrún), they set off on a madcap roadtrip whilst trying to find themselves in the process. The ensuing gags come thick and fast, with most of them missing the mark.
Apocalypse Clown is definitely at its best when Jenny’s around, as we can identify with her struggle that much more.There’s a lack of empathy for most of the characters, who are, for the most part, neither likeable enough to care about, nor funny enough to be too forgiving of their offbeat mannerisms. In other words, they’re just plain annoying. It’s supposed to be some kind of voyage of self-discovery for them, but what we do find out is about as gripping as a particularly sloppy custard pie.
The relationship between Bobo and Jenny is very much a sadly underused B-story, especially as the former becomes genuinely funnier in the latter’s presence, providing the film’s only genuine spark. It gets sacrificed for other less endearing aspects of the storyline, whilst Jenny herself is conspicuous by her absence for too much of the second half of the movie. Sure, it possesses a willingness to never take itself too seriously, but at the same time it just can’t resist descending into borderline stupidity, surrendering any shred of originality or credibility it had.
There’s a point to it all, but it’s a rather limp one and a wasted opportunity to produce something better than just an okay movie. It’s got credentials, no doubt about that. Directed by BAFTA-nominated George Kane (Crashing, Disney’s Wedding Season), it’s written by Shane O’Brien, James Walmsley and Demian Fox from the multi-award-winning, Irish comedy outfit Dead Cat Bounce. Add to that July’s sold-out world premiere screening at the Galway Film Fleadh and its North American premiere, at Fantasia International Film Festival in Quebec, and it’s inexplicably shaping up to be something of a smash.
Oh, and it currently holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But hey, you be the judge and go see it for yourself. Apocalypse Clown is released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland this Friday.
PS – This Saturday sees the return of National Cinema Day! At £3 a ticket for all screenings, all day, at a picture house near you, you need a heck of a excuse not to grab some popcorn and a slice of the big-screen action.