Movie Reviews Index

Little Britain: The Complete First Series (2004)

Rating: 4 Stars

D: Steve Bendelack, Gareth Carrivick and Graham Linehan. Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Anthony Stewart Head, Steve Furst, David Putner, Tom Baker. 225 mins. (BBC Video, 2-disc) 8/05

Creators Matt Lucas and David Walliams began their sketch-comedy hit Little Britain on BBC Radio. Its transition to the small screen has resulted in a painfully funny series for which there are no subject barriers. Often compared to Monty Python's Flying Circus for its outright creative genius, such a complimentary association is well-earned, for, like its considerably older cousin, Little Britain travels the surreal road in carrying out its third-rail skit topics. Lucas and Walliams don a collection of makeups and costumes in depicting their continuing cast of weirdo characters, ranging from trashy teen slut Vicky Pollard (her barely coherent rapid-fire delivery must be heard to be believed) to swishy Sebastian, personal aide to the Prime Minister and hopelessly in love with his boss, to Daffyd Thomas, a chubby Welshman who insists he is "the only gay in the village," even though fellow villagers reveal their homosexuality every other minute. Things get especially squeamish when Walliams' character Jason is introduced to his friend Gary's grandmother. Jason's sexual fantasy involves elderly women and these scenes are as over-the-top hysterical as they are creepy. Little Britain's fundamental success lies in the Lucas/Walliams team's writing. The two are extremely intelligent and recognize how easily such material could be insulting if mishandled. Tech credits are bolstered by composer David Arnold (Independence Day, Casino Royale), who contrasts the oft-repulsive goings-on with Hollywood scoring largesse. For fans, this double-disc set proffers plenty. All eight episodes feature in-depth commentary by Lucas and Walliams, as well as director Bendelack and producer Myfanwy Moore. Extras abound, with a 40-minute making-of doc, a wealth of deleted scenes, and other UK programming where the duo perform skits live. A talk-show appearance is also included. Series Two aired in the UK and the States during the past year, with Series Three having debuted in the UK in November 2005. Little Britain's popularity is such that Lucas and Walliams launched a six-month live UK tour in October 2005. In America, though, Little Britain's comedic intellect will attain, at best, a cult following of devotees. Pass me the Kool-Aid, please.

~ Tim Ferrante