Thursday 28 February 2008

The Calcium Kid (2004)

Boxer Jose Mendez, the undefeated world middleweight champion, is up against Pete Wright, the undefeated British champion in a major world championship fight in south east London. Never mind the Rumble in the Jungle, here's the Melee on the Tele. Sebastian Gore-Brown is a bad documentary maker (Lawn Bowls: The Real Story) and he's there to document Pete Wright's battle for the title. Unfortunately milkman Jimmy Connolly, acting as a sparring partner seven days before the fight, accidentally breaks Wright's hand with his head and ends up taking his spot, with precisely no fights behind him at all, let alone any wins.

I'd never even heard of this film and yet I found it hilarious. I spent the entire film with a grin on my face laughing out loud and I can't remember the last time I did that to a movie that was intentionally a comedy. Much of it is to do with Orlando Bloom as Jimmy Connolly, and he looks incredibly young given that this is 2004 and he already had all three Lord of the Rings movies and one Pirates of the Caribbean behind him. He's almost unrecognisable, completely unlike Legolas or Will Turner, totally hesitant and out of his element, but somehow surviving through everything and gaining the eye of Angel, Miss Lambeth in the process. Beyond just being a milkman with no fight record, he's saddled with the documentary film crew 24 hours a day, a father in prison for attempted murder, a prostitute mother, an incompetent promoter, an Irish drunkard trainer, an idiot best friend/motivator and, scariest of all, a boy band with their own version of God Save the Queen.

Just as hilarious as the promoter, Herbie Bush, is Omid Djalili, the only Iranian stand up comedian in England. He's simply perfect as a truly inept wide boy with delusions of grandeur and an eternal optimism. After the boy band, his crowning achievement must be the press conference where he manages to put the thoroughly decent milkman over as a racist thug, so that Jimmy ends up getting followed everywhere by a bunch of skinheads. He reminds me of Alexei Sayle and he cries like a seal. He's awesome.

Also notable are Michael Pena as the precious Jose Mendez, Michael Lerner as high powered American promoter Artie Cohen, Lyndsey Marshal as obsessive fan Mags Livingston, David Kelly as trainer Paddy O'Flannagan and Rafe Spall as enthusiastic idiot best friend Stan Parlour. Frank Bruno and Chris Eubank have memorable cameos too. The fake directors get beaten up as often as we wish they would on any mockumentary. The direction and editing are great but best of all is the script by Derek Boyle and first time director Alex De Rakoff. I laughed so much I nearly choked.

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