Chubby Funny, apart from being my username on all major online dating profiles, is a film directed by Harry Michell. The story concerns Charlie (Augustus Prew) and Oscar (Michell), struggling actors living on the outskirts of London, Zone Four in name but shot a lot around Camden. Oscar makes a pact to give himself a year in London, saying “if I don’t even appear in Holby City I’ll go back to Kent”.
Oh and it stars Dave Benson Phillips in a small role, previously of iconic gunge-based TV show ‘Get Your Own Back’. Also showing their support through cameo roles are Alice Lowe, of previously great work like ‘Prevenge’, ‘Sightseers’ and ‘Horrible Histories’, plus Julian Rhind Tutt, Anna Maxwell Martin and Jemma Redgrave.
It’s easy to see why they would support the major new comedy talent that has been unearthed by this film. We all know a lot of Oscar and Charlies. Many of us have been to parties of struggling creatives in cheap houses around London, sitting in the outer zones and slowly growing to hate yourself and others as all your better looking friends make it, having to do humiliating jobs to make your very frayed ends meet. In fact, you many have a half finished version of this exact script on your hard drives, though perhaps 60% less good.
It is difficult to say say, however, how well the film will work outside of the few thousand of young creatives in Zones 3 and 4 who will see themselves in this like a perfect mirror. Apart from appealing to that narcissism, however, there is much to recommend. First and foremost is the combination of a great script and the palpable chemistry between Michell and Prew. Lazy journalism will lead to them being called the millennial Withnail and I, but there’s more of a Mighty Boosh-style repartee. The chemistry is so good, in fact, that it’s shame they don’t fall in love thorough the film, though then we would miss out on some of the truest observations about the difficulty of living with other people in London’s low rent houses.
When thinking about this film objectively (which is nearly impossible when you consider yourself to be one of life’s “less Petruchio, more Ron Weasley” kind of guys – as Alice Lowe says in her great cameo as the duo’s agent) – then the film falters slightly when it gets less from life, with the early scenes set in a local corner shop and in Oscar’s job as a door-to-door charity fundraiser, having a Ricky Gervais vibe that should be left in the previous decade. When the film gets such great comic tragedy out of Oscar endlessly having to repeat dumb lines dressed as a big squirrel in one of his acting roles, it shows what a shame this slight Gervais-shaped crutch is, though even these broad moments grow as the characters develop.
Basically, this film reflected my own chubby funny life back at me. So either my life is a second-rate comedy (could be), or this film is a fantastically observed, occasional hilarious look at our clumsy paths to creative fulfilment. Either way, it’s pretty good fun to indulge in.
Chubby Funny is released on June 30th.