I think it might be time for something gruesomely hilarious to happen.
Simon Pegg sucks. Well, Simon Pegg sucks in any film where is heart is not entirely in it at least, as his three attempts to be a lead outside of any film not directed by Edgar Wright and co-starring Nick Frost. First there was Run Fatboy Run, then there was How To Lose Friends And Alienate People and now there's Burke And Hare, each insufferably broad comedies showing the none of the deft touch that Shaun Of The Dead, and to a lesser extent Hot Fuzz showed. There just flat out stupid, and though Burke and Hare is probably the best out of this trilogy of suck, its most certainly a hollow victory.
I think that this film is only getting glanced at in any way because it marks the return of John Landis, and just as people overrated The Hole because it marked the return of Joe Dante, I think that might happen here too. With people giving it three out of five and then spending their whole review talking about how awesome An American Werewolf In London is. And to be clear, An American Werewolf In London is awesome, but Burke and Hare is not. And it doesn't deserve to be cut slack just because it was made by John Landis and not by Granada studios for ITV3 as it probably should have been. Everything is just so desperate, everyone is trying too hard, and the black comedy of it is so consistently oversold that there's not much to latch onto. Pegg and co-lead Andy Serkis give good performances, resorting to mugging a little less then Landis, who has put this thing together in a manner where I keep expecting a laugh track to appear, but both are above the material really. I guess Serkis probably is a little better, but his dastardly character is slightly more interesting then Pegg's sad sack. Jessica Hines lends good support as Serkis' wife and Isla Fisher does a surprisingly convincing Scottish accent, to the point where maybe Johnny Depp should pay attention. Generally I don't mind Fisher, she can be funny, but is in a lot of terrible films and this needs to stop. Call it Anna Faris syndrome. There's all sorts of cameos from British stars of stage and screen which I think I was supposed to find hilarious, but ended up just undermining the material, particularly the movie long joke of casting Ronnie Corbett as a police captain, despite the role not being really all that comedic. After a while it just became distracting.
Landis is never going to be the most subtle film-maker. This is the guy who made Animal House, but he can deal with ideas in a crude but nonetheless entirely engaging way. But when the material is this weak, it just feels like Landis tries too hard to sell jokes that aren't funny. The medical side of the film was perhaps more interesting, but the film just doesn't get into it enough. Preferring jokes about people getting shit poured on their head and corpses being hilariously contorted into shapes they're not supposed to be in. And it ends in such a lame shrug, it lost a grade right then and there. I guess its not a terrible film, but its a gormless one, and beneath the talent of everyone involved. I'm sure hope Paul is going to be awesome, because I think Pegg definitely needs it to be.