Katie Hogan takes a look at ‘Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break’, as part of FilmHounds’ ongoing Fantasia Festival coverage.
There is an urge to be recognised for our talents that we believe we have. The need to be famous and the blind pursuit of happiness has been explored many times in film; and thankfully, there is always more room for a twist and new take on this familiar story. Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break is that latest fresh view on the desire to be famous but with a humorous British twist. There will be dancing, there will be blood and there will be glitter, at all costs. Paul Dood is a performer who wants to share his dream with the world; at least through social media. Along with his biggest fan, supporter and costume maker (his beloved mum), Paul attempts to make it to the coveted local audition of Talent Ladder’s talent search. But through a series of awkward and hideous encounters, Paul is prevented from reaching his goal. On top of another personal tragedy, he decides that he’s had enough and wants to seek revenge — all while captured on social media.
Throughout the film, Paul Dood thinks he a triple threat when it comes to performing, because his mum says he is. At first glance, this could have been a very serious character study about a deluded man who seeks fame — but it very quickly (and thankfully) morphs into a very British dark comedy.
The film comments on the need to be famous and cleverly plays with the trope of specific talentless ‘influencers’ who are famous for the sake of being famous and attractive. Whether the film intends to shine a light on this side of fame might purely be for comedic purposes — but the truth is, Paul Dood wants to be famous and share his dancing with the world. He reaches notoriety not for his performing but his deadly lunch break activities; showing that his fans don’t actually appreciate his ‘talent’, but just want to be entertained by the carnage. Paul becomes infamous rather than famous and could be seen just like Jack Tapp — the spokesperson for the film’s fictional talent app, Talent Ladder.
Along with a cast of the usual suspects of who’s who in British comedy and indie films, Paul Dood is much more than what you’d expect. Tom Meeten as Paul Dood is thoroughly entertaining as the titular delusional performer, fully immersing himself into the world of glittery costumes and nostalgic dance routines. The dark humour, obscure occurrences and ridiculous situations all lead to a film that is entertaining and even up-lifting in moments. If you’re hoping for a hard-hitting revenge story, this is not the film for you. This is a film for those wanting to be entertained and to finally get the chance to watch Johnny Vegas being incredibly inappropriate while appropriating Japanese culture on-screen.
Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. The film is currently seeking international distribution