People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan – Sitcom stars hit the big screen

Review: Hard to say if film adaptation will appeal to people unfamiliar with Kurupt FM crew

People do Nothing: Big in Japan
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Director: Jack Clough
Cert: 15A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Allan Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin, Asim Chaudhry, Steve Stamp, Dan Sylvester, Lily Brazier
Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins

For all the earthiness of its urban setting, the wonderful People Just Do Nothing – following the hopeless adventures of a UK garage crew in west London – is firmly in the tradition of the Great British Sitcom. One of the guys is an idiot. Another fancies himself rotten. Most strikingly, in Asim Chaudhry's Chabuddy G, it features yet another frustrated, self-important boss in the sad mould of Basil Fawlty, Captain Mainwaring and David Brent.

Now, the team further confirms its dedication to the ancient conventions by taking their characters abroad for a big-screen spin-off. The approach has, thank goodness, changed a little since Are You Being Served? went to the Costa Plonka. We are no longer laughing at the locals (or not much, anyway). Our boys are the dopes and the more sophisticated hosts have their measure from the start.

Rather than just pushing the characters through their familiar beats, the well-judged narrative arc takes them on something like a proper journey

Hats are doffed to the writers for coming up with a beautifully effective scenario. Last seen disbanding in 2018, the Kurupt FM crew – now variously postmen and bowling-alley employees – reunite when one of their tunes becomes a hit on Japanese television. The producers in Tokyo really want only the “talent”, but Chabuddy, supposed manager, accompanies the gang on their hopeful trip east.

The plot of half-a-dozen classic pop music flicks prompts us to where we are heading. It transpires that the new bosses want to manipulate Kurupt into becoming a cheesy boy band and are more interested in MC Grindah (Allan “Seapa” Mustafa) than the rest of the group. “I don’t really want him to fail, but if he does fail then . . . good!” DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin) says as Grindah gets nudged to the front.


There is no proper answer as to what makes such television translations “cinematic”, but the Tokyo locations certainly do some of the required expansion (as the fake Costa Plonka ones did in a less well-travelled era). Rather than just pushing the characters through their familiar beats, the well-judged narrative arc takes them on something like a proper journey. The chums are pulled apart, but not so much that we fear they won’t get back together again.

Will it appeal to those unfamiliar with the show? It is hard to say, but, as the spectacularly successful Inbetweeners Movie showed a decade ago, sitcom fans will turn out for the larger scaled version. The uninitiated wishing to catch up before immersion need be aware that five complete series are on the most popular of the streaming services.

Released on August 20th

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist