The Hooligan Factory (2)You can’t help but feel that not only are these cockney, Nick Love infused gangster flicks a thing of the past, but so is the opportunity to ridicule them. We’ve thankfully moved beyond the films that were genuinely of this ilk, and now the chance to parody them feels contrived and unnecessary, in a Britain that has since moved on significantly, and a whole culture that’s almost a product of a bygone era. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped Nick Nevern taking it upon himself to create such a film, teaming up with writer Michael Lindley to present The Hooligan Factory.

Nevern also takes on one of the lead roles, playing Dex – a former football hooligan who is released from prison, only to join forces with his old gang and pick up where they left off. On his first day of freedom he bumps into the opportunist Danny (Jason Maza), a disillusioned youngster who is struggling to make ends meet. Dex decides to take him under his wing, as they join forces to seek vengeance on bitter nemesis The Baron (Keith-Lee Castle), and reunite The Hooligan Factory for one final battle.

Though there are apprehensions about the need for a film such as this, that would be completely irrelevant had this picture been genuinely funny, yet it sadly falls at such a hurdle. The jokes are incredibly elementary and somewhat cheap. Such as when two men kiss at a nightclub, and the entire dance floor goes silent, and everybody looks on astounded at what they’re witnessing. The jokes aren’t offensive as such – nobody is safe from ridicule, and it’s an even playing field (especially considering the perpetrators are generally the butt of their own joke in most cases) – but they just aren’t very funny, and as such you can’t help but search for the faults within them. Offensive humour can be hilarious if intelligent and witty, but this just isn’t.

That being said, there is something rather amusing about the pathetic nature of the characters, particularly when in an arena where such creations are so often feared and revered. The characters are extremely overstated creation and caricatures, and they become almost pantomime villains of sorts, playing heavily on stereotype to comic affect. They’re all so absurd and idiosyncratic, as we enter into Vic and Bob territory in how surrealistic and downright inane it all becomes. You can’t fault the tone of the film in that regard, this is a frivolous piece of cinema and one that never takes itself seriously at all.

Vitally, Danny is the viewer’s entry point into this tale, and we need to witness this quirky, fantastical universe through such ordinary eyes to fully comprehend it, as he gives deadpan looks to camera to represent that normality amidst the absurdities that take place. The problem is, we need to feel some sort of connection to the role, but he’s not in any way likeable. You can’t fault Maza’s performance, but as the character we’re supposed to connect with, it’s hard to look past the fact that he’s just an obnoxious thug. It’s his idea to bring back the violence and hooliganism into this obsolete group, which is hardly an endearing quality to have, no matter how tongue-in-cheek this picture may be.

Of course when it comes to parodies, it’s deliberately supposed to take from films that came before it, but that’s no excuse for a film that struggles to find its own identity. There’s an evident attempt at being stylistic in parts, like the revolving shot when we’re introduced to the members of the firm (just an excuse to give people silly names, really), but it’s never original, and the sharp editing techniques are taken right out of Spaced and Da Ali G Show. Not to mention the fact there isn’t a single female character with any depth (nor many lines). This is certainly one for a male audience. An easy to please male audience.