2012 Film Challenge #33 - The Likely Lads
A month or two ago I watched Carry On Screaming. My mum was in the room, and she expressed a never-before-expressed appreciation for the Carry On oeuvre. I asked her why, and she said that they provide a chance to see England like it used to be – the grubby net curtains, strange wallpaper, the tins of shelves arranged neatly in the supermarkets.
She'd have loved The Likely Lads. It's like Carry On – in that it shows the England in which she grew up – but it has a lot less in the way of double-entendres.
Unfortunately, what it lacks in raised eyebrows it more than makes up for in philandering and wholly less subtle and thus, less innocent, perviness. There's a horrible extended sequence where our hero spies on women in fitting rooms, and at one point, at a loss, in desperation they decide to visit Boots, as fit women always work at Boots.
Maybe mum wouldn't've loved The Likely Lads after all.
Different time though, wasn't it? And the notion that these things come to an end happens to form the theme of this ultimately sad, pathological exploration of faded lives.
It opens when the housing estate on which our heroes grew up is demolished – along with their beloved local – completely without ceremony. This leads to a crisis of identity, a disastrous camping trip and an attempt to sleep with – or at the very least, catch an eyeful of – any vaguely attractive woman who happens to enter the same postcode as our heroes.
I've never seen the series, so I didn't know what to expect. The tone, though, was more sad and mournful than riotous and uproarious. I wasn't really expecting the latter, though, and I suppose that when things take place in the North-East, things will never be anything less than grim, gloomy and dreary.
At one point they cut through a funfair out of season – remembering the good times they'd had in those environs. Their wistful remembrances, coupled with the drizzle, the uniform-white overcast sky, the run-down ghost train and fun house and the general desertion made for an atmosphere of almost unbearable desolation. “It feels like we're the last men on Earth.”
Had this film been measured and miserable throughout, I would have loved it. The jokes for me destroyed this comforting air of melancholy.
And Jesus Christ, what does that say about me?
Can anybody recommend a film set in the North of England that has the grimness of The Likely Lads with none of the smut?