When its final season wrapped up in late 2018, People Just Do Nothing cemented itself as one of British comedy’s most underrated gems. The misadventures of Grindah (Allan Mustafa), Beats (Hugo Chegwin) and co. were laced with irony, knowing winks to the audience, and a deep reverence for UK garage culture. In fact, some of my first reviews were of early seasons of the show, drinking in Chabuddy G’s constant misadventures, Grindah’s misplaced self-confidence, and the slapstick humour of failed gigs, rival stations and pitiful promotion drives. Almost 3 years and one pandemic-induced delay later, Kurupt FM are back on the big screen with People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan. The end product is a feature-length escapade that cements the legacy of the original show – and it’s the funniest film of the year by a long way.
Big in Japan picks up a while after Kurupt FM went off the Brentford airwaves as all the boys, from the drug-addled DJ Steves to wheeler dealer manager Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry), have moved on with their lives (often to hilarious effect). Kurupt are hit with a shock, as their iconic anthem ‘Heart Monitor Riddem’ turns out to be an unexpected sensation in Japan. Cue a trip to Tokyo, a promotional drive, and plenty of memorable moments throughout.
Often, when revered British comedies transition to the big screen, the results can be middling. Taking a 30-minute format and tripling the length requires a plot that earns the big screen upgrade and as a result, a lot of these cinematic spinoffs end up feeling laboured. Big in Japan relishes in the extended length, devoting plenty of time to catching up with our beloved characters and detailing their adventures in Tokyo. Without getting into specifics, the writers (the five main leads) manage to weave the Kurupt crew into their new surroundings perfectly. These Brentford boys have never seen the decadent exoticism of the Japanese capital, and their efforts to acclimatise to the new surroundings and find their path to fame provide the backbone of the film’s charm.
The show always knew just how much time to devote to each of its characters – Grindah taking the lead, Beats following close behind, and the likes of Steves (Steve Stamp) and Decoy lingering in the background – and that hierarchy broadly exists here. The expanded format does give some room for the supporting characters, though, especially Steves, whose role is hugely increased here. He gets not only the film’s most frequent laughs, but a genuinely touching sub plot to boot – it’s just a shame that Dan Sylvester’s Decoy remains an enigma without much dialogue. The film isn’t laced with too many call-backs as to alienate newcomers to the series, but director Jack Clough knows how to please long-term fans: even something as simple as Chabuddy’s pronunciation of ‘Kurupt’, a running joke in the show, gets the big screen service it deserves.
The 100-minute runtime soars by without a dip in pace or a dry spell without laughs, and while it does follow the slightly predictable plot structure of many comedy films – if you’ve seen either of the Inbetweeners movies, you’ll know what to expect – just the sheer pleasure of seeing these characters in these situations makes it all worth it. You won’t be in for shocks and surprises plot-wise, but all that does is make room for the comedy to take centre stage.
It’s been a long time since a British comedy has done its genre this much of a service, remaining faithful to the tone and characters of the show while expanding the humour for the big screen. Even if you don’t know your Miche from your Roche, you’ll leave Big in Japan with a much-needed serotonin hit. If this is goodbye from Kurupt FM, then it’s the best way to go out. People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is the funniest British comedy in years, and the new hallmark for big-screen TV adaptions.
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan hits cinemas on August 18.