(UK - 2017)
Directed by Sean Foley. Written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby. Cast: Julian Barratt, Andrea Riseborough, Essie Davis, Steve Coogan, Russell Tovey, Simon Farnaby, Richard McCabe, David Schofield, Nicholas Farrell, Harriet Walter, Kenneth Branagh, Simon Callow, Jessica Barden, Robin Morrissey, Jordan Long. (Unrated, 88 mins)
It succumbs to predictability when the comedy gives way to formulaic action in the third act, but the British-made Netflix acquisition MINDHORN, starring and co-written by THE MIGHTY BOOSH's Julian Barratt, gets its share of big laughs from an inspired premise. Barratt is Richard Thorncroft, a washed-up Isle of Man-born actor best known for a late '80s/early '90s TV series called MINDHORN, In it, Thorncroft starred as Bruce Mindhorn, an MI-5 agent who was captured and held prisoner at a secret compound in the outer regions of Siberia, where Soviet scientists replaced his left eye with a cybernetic optical lie detector, "allowing him to literally see the truth!" according to the show's dead-on INCREDIBLE HULK-type voiceover intro ("It's Truth Time!" Mindhorn declares when he nabs a perp). MINDHORN was a big hit for a few years but Thorncroft did a poor job of handling his fame. After releasing an album with the minor hit single "You Can't Handcuff the Wind" (sample lyric: "It's like tryin' to put thunder in jail!"), the show's popularity waned, ratings plummeted, his relationship with leading lady Patricia Deville (Essie Davis of THE BABADOOK) fell apart, and he had a very public meltdown when he appeared falling-down drunk on a live talk show, trash-talking co-star Peter Easterman (Steve Coogan), who played Mindhorn's sidekick Windjammer. Upon MINDHORN's cancellation, Easterman became a bigger star than Thorncroft ever was thanks to the spinoff WINDJAMMER, currently in its 16th season and still the most-watched show on British TV. Thorncroft's fall from grace continued when he ditched his loyal agent Geoffrey Moncrief (Richard McCabe) and went off to Hollywood when a megabudget producer promised to make him the next Burt Reynolds. The movie bombed and Thorncroft crashed and burned, and he's been scrounging for work and licking his wounds in London in the 20 years since. He's still trying to stage a comeback, still sucking in his gut and throwing on a Mindhorn toupee to cover his now-bald head, with his latest agent (Harriet Walter) unable to find any publisher interest in his autobiography (Easterman has just published his third memoir), while his most prominent recent gigs have found him coasting on what little MINDHORN notoriety he still has in TV commercials endorsing man-girdles and orthopedic socks.
DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD and a much better cop comedy than the dismal HANDSOME: A NETFLIX MYSTERY MOVIE.