Swinging with the Finkels


Directed by Jonathan Newman. Starring Mandy Moore, Martin Freeman, Melissa George, Angus Deayton, Jerry Stiller, Jonathan Silverman 16 cert, gen release, 84 min

IT’S JUST as well that Martin Freeman has secured that role in Peter Jackson’s upcoming version of The Hobbit. Indeed, if I were Martin I’d make absolutely sure that every dotted line is signed and every relevant box is ticked. Swinging with the Finkelsis the sort of film that kills careers.

Heck, it’s the sort of film that stops clocks, causes plants to die and induces mass outbreaks of spontaneous vomiting. Mrs Thatcher killed off the unions and broke the nationalised industries, but she couldn’t eradicate the most troubling symptom of the 1970s British Disease: the feeble, urban sex comedy.

Here’s a question for you. About halfway through this carnival of bilge, Mandy Moore, playing a sexually frustrated wife, decides to pleasure herself with a crisp cucumber. What do you think happens next? That’s right. Her elderly grandparents, whose impending visit she seems to have forgotten, bluster in the door carrying overstuffed suitcases. Laugh? I almost renewed my subscription to the Robin Askwith Appreciation Society (look him up, kids).

Jonathan Newman has based his debut feature on a short film that – barring its future employment as a torture device by an invading despotic army – I will never, ever sit through. It seems that Sex With the Finkelsdealt with a drab couple in an uninteresting suburb.

The maniacs who financed the feature have, of course, decided that hip, happening punters require something a little more glamorous. Accordingly, the couple undergoing a relationship slump (Moore and Freeman) have been relocated to a sparse apartment in a ruinously expensive corner of Soho.

Nothing else about the film is sophisticated. Desperate to relight the fire, Mandy and Martin decide to audition hopeful swingers for an evening of wife-swapping. After enduring another desperate cliche of contemporary comedy – a montage of “funny” people talking directly to the camera – they eventually settle on a couple, at least 50 per cent of which consists of Angus Deayton.

Did an icy shudder just run down your back? Have a warm shower. Drink some Ovaltine. Think about something else. Anything else.

Worst film of the year so far.