There`s nothing quite like a pleasant little bit of Sunday afternoon entertainment. Sitting down after a satisfying roast, putting your feet up and sticking on a delightfully pleasant film is one of life`s simplest pleasures.
Trying its dandiest to seal a place in our Sunday afternoon library is Charlie Higson`s new adaptation of Norman Hunter`s classic children`s story The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm. Featuring an all-star cast of the crème-de-la-crème of British comedy, with Harry Hill (TV Burp) as the titular professor, we know from the outset that something inimitably silly is about to unfold.
Introducing us to the headstrong young Connie (newcomer Madeline Holiday), a schoolgirl who is constantly butting heads with her teacher Miss Blitherington (the wonderful as ever Miranda Richardson) about the role of women in society; Connie wishes to be a great scientist, but is perpetually reminded that a woman`s job is nothing more than to find a good husband. Upon being introduced to the professor, however, she discovers that anyone can be a great inventor if they put their mind to it.
Branestawm and his friends, meanwhile, have problems of their own. The Professor`s latest invention, an automatic cleaner machine, insists on throwing cats out of windows, whilst evil entrepreneur Mr. Bullimore (Ben Miller at his very grumpiest) teams up with David Mitchell`s weaselly councilor in an attempt to rid the town of the bumbling professor and build “a giant munitions factory right in the middle of town”.
It`s up to young Connie to help the absent-minded professor find the license for his laboratory and in doing so, foil Bullimore`s evil plan.
There`s something quintessentially British about The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm, from the nifty tea making machine to its rural village setting, and even the very Just William-esque score, it really does ooze of Blighty. The plot to spoil the peaceful little village with “a giant munitions factory right in the middle of town” is incredibly evil in a way that the only remedy could be a plate of crumpets and an Antiques Roadshow marathon.
It is this, however, that somewhat hinders the film as a real piece of family entertainment. The feminist plight of young Connie is not really an issue that young girls have had to deal with since the days of Roger Moore`s innocent chauvinism, and the destruction of the local flora is not really a problem that crosses the minds of the YouTube generation. The script, at times, is also far too overtly verbose for many a youngster to follow.
That said, though, The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm is a delightful little ramble into a bygone time that would more than warrant an afternoon viewing, and though it may keep the parents and grandparents more entertained than the youngsters, there is still more than enough charm and silliness for the whole family to enjoy.
3 / 5
Dir: Sandy Johnson
Scr: Charlie Higson
Starring: Madeline Holiday, Harry Hill, Miranda Richardson, Ben Miller, David Mitchell, Simon Day
Prd: Rosemary McGowan
DOP: Ian Moss
Music: Julian Nott
Run time: 60mins
The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm is out on DVD from 30th November.