March 23, 2019

Film Review: The Hooligan Factory – the comedy football hooligan film

From the guys who had absolutely nothing to do with Green Street…

It is a strange fact that Britain excels in both period dramas and hooligan movies – our parochial versions of the Italian-American Mafia film. Somehow the same society that produced A Room with a View also gave us The Firm. The rich diversity of life on this Sceptre’d Isle, or a country with a strangely split personality? On one hand the repressed relationships of the upper class, on the other the unrepressed violence of the underclass. Thank goodness we also have Wallace and Grommit.

The trailer is funny. It gives the impression The Hooligan Factory is a gag-a-minute spoof, an Airplane with a British football twist. The screening I saw was introduced by the director and star Nick Nevern. He claimed The Hooligan Factory was a documentary before adding that no hooligans were harmed in the making of the film and calling for the doors to be locked. Everything was set for a hilarious 90 minutes.

Danny, played by producer Jason Maza is the son of an old-school Essex hooligan who was sent to prison not so much for his violent tendencies, but his courtroom attempt to get the judge to eat his own wig. Wanting to emulate his father (in hooliganism rather than judge-baiting) Danny falls in with Nevern’s Dex, an Eighties hooligan who has just been released from jail.

The leader of The Hooligan Factory firm, Dex is disappointed to discover his firm has lost its top ranking in the hooligan league table. Together he and Danny tear around the country, fighting with hooligans in an attempt to become the top firm.

Unfortunately the film is not as funny as the trailer suggests. It does have two running gags that work well, with Steven O’Donnell turning in an amusing Old Bill, and Ray Feardon giving an intelligent Midnight. The two main actors, Maza and Nevern bring a touching silliness to their relationship, especially in a symbolic passing of power between the generations. But the film needs more of that absurdity and less of the violent melées to work as comedy. There is a lot of spurting blood and groups of men wielding very violent weapons. But groups of men fighting aren’t that amusing.

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