Julian Barratt's performance is almost Partridge-esque in its clueless pomposity in this hilarious British comedy
From To Be or Not to Be to Tropic Thunder, the idea of actors being inadvertently pulled into real-life jeopardy has served as a durable comic premise for years, and Mindhorn is a particularly English spin on that concept. Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) is a washed-up actor whose one big hit, the 80s detective series Mindhorn, is now long forgotten, but he’s given an opportunity to revive his career when a delusional killer on the Isle of Man tells the police that he will only negotiate with the legendary Mindhorn himself.
He believes Mindhorn actually exists, and Barratt and his co-screenwriter Simon Farnaby (who also appears as Thorncroft’s skimpily dressed love rival) make every effort to make him feel real, showing a valuable attention to detail in their portrait of naff 80s television conventions and merchandising.
While the thin plot starts to feel overextended in the final third, the absurd gags come fast enough to ensure the film is always entertaining and occasionally hilarious, and Barratt’s excellent central performance is almost Partridge-esque in its clueless pomposity.
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