Fat Slags Review

There are a lot of things wrong with the Fat Slags movie but its biggest problem of all is that it doesn't understand the characters it's based on. The Slags, who debuted in Viz comic in spring 1989 and have become its best-known creations, are appalling women. They're stupid, nasty, selfish gluttons who sexually abuse terrified men. They aren't, as screenwriter William Osborne seems to believe, comic heroines. They aren't brassy northern birds standing up to snobby southerners. They aren't the slightest bit sympathetic and they could not in a million years fall in love and get their hearts broken by men. Has Osborne, who is also responsible for writing Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot and Thunderbirds, ever even read Viz?

The watered-down Slags we get here - Sandra Burke (Fiona Allen) and Tracey Tunstall (Sophie Thompson) - are a pair of lovable, overweight man-eaters from up north. Where up north is unclear. The opening scene with the brass band playing over it suggests Yorkshire, yet the Slags' boyfriends are Geordies and their own accents are anyone's guess. When they aren't shagging and eating king-sized kebabs, the Slags dream of being famous like the celebs they read about in OK Magazine. They finally get their big break when they're selected to appear on a daytime talk show on which the topic is northern women with eating disorders. Naturally, the belligerent Slags turn the show into a riot. This is witnessed by Sean Cooley (Jerry O'Connell), a powerful American media magnate who has just been hit on the head by a plant pot. In his befuddled state of mind, he decides the Slags are the next big thing and, lo and behold, Sandra and Tracey become a national phenomenon.

Wasn't this wheezy old plotline last used by the Ali G movie? Fat Slags doesn't have Ali G's budget however so instead of appearances by John Humphrys and Richard and Judy, the Slags' fame is represented by endless montages of tabloid headlines like "Slag is the new black". The headlines aren't even convincing - real papers have a photo on the front page to go with the words. Not since Shark Attack 3, with its CGI sharks that looked like they were done on a Sinclair Spectrum, have I seen a film which makes its budget limitations as obvious as Fat Slags.

Its director is Ed Bye who previously made Kevin And Perry Go Large. That wasn't a very good film but it was at least competently made, not cheap and ugly like this, and its stars, Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke were good for a few laughs. The actresses who play the Fat Slags, Fiona Allen and Sophie Thompson (sister of Emma), just waddle around in their fat-suits and screech a lot. They don't even have enough screen presence to be annoying. Jerry O'Connell isn't a major Hollywood star but he's been in enough big films (Jerry Maguire, Scream 2, Kangaroo Jack) to make you wonder what he was thinking when he signed on for this. As his slimy deputy, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Anthony Head looks like he's trying to impersonate Anthony Hopkins, while Geri Halliwell, who plays O'Connell's PA, appears to have had most of her scenes cut out. There's enough left that you can see why.

Fat Slags is the second of three northern sex comedies released in 2004, following Sex Lives Of The Potato Men. Next up in November is the Kelly Brook starrer, School For Seduction. I can't decide whether Sex Lives Of The Potato Men was better or worse than this. Sex Lives did have some funny moments, thanks to Johnny Vegas, but a lot of it was truly abysmal. Fat Slags is just poor all the way through, it's over mercifully fast and it made me laugh once, at a piss-take of Tracey Emin. Maybe I'm being overly generous because a few days earlier, I sat through one of the worst movies I've ever seen: an art film called Triumph Of Love, which is based on a French play from the 18th century and helped me understand why the 18th century French invented the guillotine. Next to that two hours of torture, 76 minutes of the Fat Slags was a doddle.



out of 10

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