Sex Lives Of The Potato Men Review
The saddest thought that popped into my head while sitting through Blackball and Sex Lives Of The Potato Men was not the dire state of the British comedy film but that Johnny Vegas is a genuine movie star. He has a strong, original screen presence and when he's given a rare chance at a funny moment, he grabs it. The handful of good scenes in Sex Lives Of The Potato Men all involve him. Standing in line at a gang-bang, waiting for his turn, he makes conversation with the bloke in front of him about car parking in the area and the merits of a Ford Galaxy. In a pub, he and his mates compare their knowledge of wasps, bees and the honey-making process and go on to ponder whether ants make sugar. Vegas isn't the first comedian to act stupid for laughs but he's come up with a new flavour of pig-ignorance that's disarmingly funny. If you gave him a good script, you might really have something. Instead he's reduced to playing sidekick to an unfunny Paul Kaye in the dismal Blackball and now he's fighting for scraps in this failed British sex comedy which wants to be laddish after-the-pub entertainment but comes off as a poor cross between the Confessions romps of the seventies and today's gross-out teen flicks like American Pie. And it really is gross, not in a funny way but just pointlessly foul for the sake of it. Take a scene where a character picks his nose and eats it. Lovely, I know, but it got a laugh in Caddyshack. Why? Because the other caddies spied on the nose-picker, taking bets on whether he'd put it in his mouth. That was the funny part. Here a guy just pulls a bogey out of his nostril (we get a loving close-up of the bogey) and swallows it. That only counts as comedy if you're eight.
Like the title suggests, the film follows the sex lives of four working men from Walsall who deliver bags of potatoes to chip shops. Dave (Johnny Vegas) drives the firm's filthy van and, out of hours, he's an unhappy husband and father who feels he hasn't sown enough wild oats. When his wife throws him out, he's delighted to be free and single but less pleased to be staying with his mate Tolly (Dominic Coleman), who has a strawberry fetish (don't ask, you really don't want the details!) and who masturbates constantly, publicly and without warning. Dave has nowhere else to turn since his best friend Ferris (Mackenzie Crook) is himself without a place to live and is forced to stay with his randy ex-mother-in-law in return for sexual favours. The three of them work for Jeremy (Mark Gatiss), a mild-mannered boss by day but an obsessed stalker by night. As you can tell, there's no real plot here, just a series of would-be comic episodes with the four men getting themselves into the same kind of mischief Robin Asquith and Tony Blair's father-in-law did in those 1970s sex films.
This movie's ideas of kinky sexual practices certainly date from the 1970s. One character starts seeing a swinger, another gets involved with a horny housewife and her voyeur husband, a third goes to an orgy. Walsall must be a bit behind the times. While the Confessions films may have been crap, at least they offered their red-blooded male viewers the occasional good-looking actress taking her clothes off. You'll find no such mercy here. Don't let the 18 rating fool you - that's for dialogue and general grossness and because the sight of Johnny Vegas in a sex scene might be damaging to impressionable young minds. There's little nudity, none that you'd want to see anyway and, in the grand tradition of British movies about sex, there's not a single moment that anyone could find sexy. Nor unfortunately are there very many moments that anyone could find funny. In a sex comedy, that's not good.