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Kevin & Perry Go Large

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2000

‘…Kevin & Perry is no masterpiece, but it’s also a far better film than might be expected; the relentless, repetitious nature of the gags pays off…’

The pandemic has taken away so many things, one of the less heralded being the 20th anniversary of British comedy Kevin & Perry Go Large, the number one film in the UK back in Easter 2000. Various events were planned for 2020, then rescheduled to celebrate this august moment, and several look set to finally happen this year. Those outside the UK might wonder what the fuss is about; for once, this is a movie based on a recent BBC rather than US comedy show, and the crude humour and low-brow jokes are decidedly British.

The driving force here is Harry Enfield, who originated the character of Kevin the stroppy teenager. He’s matched by Perry, played by Kathy Burke as a gormless sidekick, and their search for sexual experiences is conveyed with Rabelaisian fervour. For the British, sex is something best enjoyed on holiday, and so the lads travel to Ibiza where they hook up with two girls Candice and Gemma (Laura Fraser and Tabitha Wady). But standing in their way is DJ Eyeball Paul (Rhys Ifans), who aims to exploit their musical abilities for his own fiendish ends…

Rubbished by many at the time, Kevin & Perry is the British equivalent of Harold and Kumar, and has built up a similar cult following. That’s partly because the film was clearly filmed in club-central Ibiza, using real clubs, sunsets and choons. But it’s also because there’s a game cast at work here, including James Fleet, Paul Whitehouse, and because Enfield, working with director Ed Bye, manages to avoid a negative portrayal of women; Candice and Gemma are every bit in on the joke as the titular characters, giving themselves a make-over as they burst pimples in the mirror.

Currently standing on an undeserved zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Kevin & Perry is no masterpiece, but it’s also a far better film than might be expected; the relentless, repetitious nature of the gags pays off eventually, and audiences can just sit back and chill as Kevin & Perry defeat all comers. It’s the definition of a popular success; while many complained at the time, Kevin & Perry’s adventures provide the kind of route-one British crowd-pleaser that’s been sorely missing in the last decade…

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  1. “Those outside the UK might wonder what the fuss is about . . .”

    Guilty as charged. Never heard of this.

    ” . . . it’s also a far better film than might be expected”

    With a zero percent on RT? I dunno, my expectations would be loooooow.

    The trailer makes it look ghastly. I hope those weren’t the best bits. Seems like a live-action Bevis and Butthead.

    • I’m sure you could name some Canada only comedy that the rest of the world is unaware of?

      This is ghastly, but deliberately so, and it’s way more sophisticated than lots of other teen mayhem product. It absolutely does not deserve zero percent, and now, thanks to my academic studies into this work, stands at a lofty 14 percent. That is the transformative effect I’m having on the cinematic culture of today. Hope for the best, expect the worst…

        • My internet is shonky today, so got cut off. It used to be the case that every country had local hits that didn’t translate elsewhere; kevin and Perry made £10 million in the Uk. Carry on, or Confessions Of, of The Inbetweeners demonstrated that having zero overseas profile was not a problem. But that pattern, which went on for decades, seems to have fizzled out of late…actually I think Trailer Park Boys have a Netflix exposure here, but Red Green is news to me…

          • Kids in the Hall we’re fairly popular back in the day. Which I think in their case was thirty years ago now. I couldn’t stand them. Red Green was folksy, family humour. He was always fixing things with duct tape and his favourite line was “if the ladies don’t find you handsome, at least they’ll find you handy.” Surprised Trailer Park Boys isn’t better known. Schitt’s Creek started out as Canadian too. Kenny vs. Spenny was big too, and I believe had a UK spinoff.

            • Yikes. That’s not exactly a roll of honour. So I guess that local humour has largely been jettisoned because it appeals to a limited audience. Put on a superhero costume and punch someone and you have a potentially global brand. I guess it’s progress of a kind, but also seems like dumbing down. And many comedy shows were not that smart to begin with. Any great moments in Canadian comedy you’d recommend?

              • There’s nothing like SCTV. The collection of talent on that show was unprecedented. Blew away Saturday Night Live, or anything else on TV, in their prime.

                • I think I’ve seen some sketches on YouTube. Certainly a roster of talent that have been staples for decades. Who says Canadians aren’t funny?

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