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‘Fat Slags’ (Ed Bye, 2004)

slagsYou probably think that ‘Fat Slags’ is a terrible film and turned your nose up at it the moment you saw the title.

You’re probably right. But it’s not as though it’s pretending to be something it isn’t.

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_00.38.46_[2013.09.13_12.31.13]Though it had been going for some time, Viz really took off in the late eighties/early nineties when I was at secondary school. It was lewd, crude, puerile, childish, twisted, stupid, silly and very rough around the edges. I can remember drawing Roger Irrelevant on my Design Technology folder and even buying that stupid little Roger Mellie swear words book. Viz used to be on the top shelf in the newsagents with all the porn. It was lowlife scum in comic form. A reminder of adolescence for adults and one long, bloody funny fart joke for kids.

So if you go to the cinema to see a film called ‘Fat Slags’ about the comic strip characters of the same name, what the hell do you expect from it? Quite frankly it delivers exactly what the title promises: A live action version of that comic strip. I had a rant a few weeks back about the remake of ‘House of Wax’ (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2005) where the makers were clearly taking the piss and it for the money. The opposite is true here, though it’s clearly a money-making exercise, the aim is to make the film the title describes.

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_01.03.00_[2013.09.13_12.30.23]It’s not possible to be snobbish or angry about this film getting made. However I am puzzled as to why it got made in 2004. It doesn’t really make any sense. By 2004 Viz was well into its decline. But that’s the truth of development hell and a consequence Hollywood, or indeed the British film industry, have yet to acknowledge.

One can draw a lot of parallels between ‘Fat Slags’ and ‘Spice World’ (Bob Spiers, 1997). Both films are British, both are directed by established TV comedy directors, both have that excruciating ‘girl power’ theme, both feature a baffling number of celebrity cameos and both feature Geri Halliwell. Tonally they’re much the same thing and it’s the sort of balls-out fun cinema is so afraid of. I’m not saying I had much fun watching it, but I imagine it was fun to make and there are one or two moments which I genuinely laughed at.

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_00.47.18_[2013.09.13_12.29.24]Our eponymous slags’ boyfriends, two Geordie guys, are picked up by the police who can’t understand a word they’re saying and assume they’re foreign, putting them through immigration. This was actually quite funny, all the more surprisingly given the immigration officials were Punt and Dennis!

Another strange sequence sees a flattened dead dog being thrown out of a window, hitting a gardener who falls backwards into his wheelbarrow and then explodes in a ball of flame. It’s reminiscent of the sheep and bazooka in ‘Bad Taste’ (Peter Jackson, 1987).

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_00.28.13_[2013.09.13_12.27.43]Other chuckles come mainly from the cast, specifically Anthony Head who is usually pretty reliable. Here he delivers some terrific plummy insults and bitchy asides very well and is probably one of the only cast members to leave with his dignity intact. The aforementioned Geri Halliwell is also pretty good. She doesn’t have much to do, but she does it well. The big mystery is Jerry O’Connell. They clearly wanted a big star, and I seriously suspect they wanted someone to play themselves, someone like Richard Gere or Tom Cruise. They couldn’t get anyone and ended up with O’Connell, tweaking the script to suit. But he’s worse than useless and I’m sure if they’d sniffed around they could’ve found a more convincing star for this, someone who’d make sense in the role. By 2004 O’Connell was old news, in 2013 at the time of writing I don’t even think he has an agent anymore.

Dolph Lundgren took some flak for appearing in this, but again he comes out of it fairly unscathed. He’s mugging a bit, but what the hell? For a guy who can’t act he’s had a great career in film. What he does works.

The leads are another point of confusion. One can assume the plethora of guest stars is to make up for the relative anonymity of the leads. While Fiona Allen was fairly well-known for ‘Smack the Pony’ on TV, Sophie Thompson (Emma’s sister) has never really broken through. It’s probably because she did this! She’s the better of the two slags since Allen insists on a weird toothy smirk throughout, even during fight sequences, and she ends up looking uncannily like the comedic antimatter that is Katy Brand.

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_00.14.24_[2013.09.13_12.32.24]The shortcomings of the limited script, which lacks punchy lines leaving it to director Ed Bye to fill in with visual gags, is revealed in the closing titles when Paul Alexander’s name appears. Oh, Paul. He’s been attached to some bloody awful things in his time. Aside from contributing to the very worst ‘Red Dwarf’ series he was also responsible for S Club 7’s TV adventures and ‘Dancing Queen’ rip-off ‘Staggered’ (Martin Clunes, 1994).

But none of this matters. You can’t call this film crap, rubbish, shit or disappointing. If you’ve gone out of your way to watch ‘Fat Slags’ then you get what you’ve sought. No-one to blame but you.

Fat Slags (15) (2004).avi_snapshot_00.32.16_[2013.09.13_12.27.55]

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