The screaming you heard over the weekend wasn’t the climax of a witch’s sabbat but the sound of my wife wrestling money out of my wallet to take us to see Burke And Hare at the local cinema...
I love going to the cinema but when times are tight it is usually the first luxury to fall by the wayside.
So was it money well spent?
On the whole I’d say yes. The film is a comedy in the Ealing vein but is also gritty and a mite grim. Difficult for it to be otherwise given the subject matter – dead bodies, corpses, anatomical science and murder (to be said with both r’s rolling furiously like in an episode of Taggart) – and the historical ending of the story leaves little room for it to mutate into a chick flick: William Burke was roundly hanged, dissected and his skeleton put on view for all to see in the Edinburgh University Museum. Apparently it is still there.
But comedy it was and by God it was a who’s who of British comedians. Practically everyone was there with the notable exceptions of Ricky Gervais and Jim Davidson. So there’s 2 reasons at least to go and see it. Almost the entire cast of Spaced appears in the film and there was even Ronnie Corbett to boot though Karen and I both think the tiny little chap is recovering from a stroke given his slightly slurred delivery of his lines... but then again he was playing a Scotsman so the slurring could have been entirely deliberate.
As for the all important eye candy... well, there’s little to appeal to the ladies. Much as I like Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis they are hardly a pair of Adonis’s (Adoni?) and having them waddle around dressed in the cast-offs from Oliver Twist is hardly going to boost their sex appeal. For the lads there was Isla Fisher who I’m sure debuted on our screens in Home & Away. What can I say? She’s pretty enough but does nothing for me. So little in fact Burke and Hare could have carted me off to the butcher’s slab and I wouldn’t have noticed. Possibly it’s a testament to how much I adored Spaced but Jessica Hynes did far more for me. Even though she spent much of the film spilling her impressive bosom into a bowl of porridge and cheap ale. I guess that says a lot about what floats my boat.
Hynes also has the best laugh-out-loud scene in the film – as she and her on-screen husband, Serkis, are rogering each other with a fury that would possibly cause a tsunami off the coast of Skye they come up with their master plan – to move away from murder and into funeral parlours (the reason being people bring their dead bodies to you rather you having to engineer them yourself: genius). To be honest if I was going at Jessica Hynes like a threshing machine on moonshine the last thing I’d be thinking about would be funeral parlours ...but if I were to have Andy Serkis’s rubber lips flapping over me like Mr Ed reciting the alphabet then thinking about funeral parlours might be a very welcome diversion.
Anyway, my opinion aside, the film was not well patronaged when Karen and I went to see it and much as I’d like to see the film get a wider audience for patriotic reasons I can see that its appeal is limited. I don’t think the humour or the accents will travel well. Which is a shame.
And as for the title of this post: Birk & Nagra are a well established firm of chemists in Leamington Spa and, because my mind works like that, they are all I can think of when I see the names Burke and Hare. Any other association between the 2 is purely coincidental. Ahem.