Walk Like A Panther (2018)

In the review of Finding Your Feet a few days ago, I mentioned how it was incredibly BBC, I felt something similar during this. This film is so ITV I’m surprised it didn’t come with advert breaks and a thirty-minute stoppage where they show local news and weather. I think I enjoyed this film more than I liked it. I found it funny and heartwarming in just the right parts. But I had to ignore two things to enjoy it, one which I don’t think many people would have noticed, and one you can’t help but notice.

First, the one that not many noticed. The entire premise of the film is that British wrestling is a thing of the past and is a dead industry. This would have worked 5 years ago, but the industry is going through a massive resurgence at the moment, to the point that it’s one of the most highly regarded in the world (only behind America, Japan, and Mexico). I know to most people that wouldn’t bother them, but it just seemed like it meant they didn’t do much research. It would be like if someone made a film about someone attempting to bring football to Manchester, or cricket to India. It’s such an easy fix too: set the film in a different time. Set it in the early 2000’s. This would mean having to change the inciting incident (someone filming an attack on their smartphone and uploading it to youtube) but otherwise, you could keep it exactly the same.

The other thing; the performances. They’re slightly panto at times. Occasionally this helps the story, not every film needs to be gritty and realistic. But there are times when it doesn’t mesh with the story they’re telling. It’s a simple story really: a son who idolises his estranged father enlists his help (and the help of the local community) to save a local building that’s central to the ethos of the working class area. A story that’s been told many times (and seemed to be the plot for most British films in the 90’s). You can go slightly cartoonish, but you also need a certain level of seriousness and down to earth-ness to it for it to really work as well as it should.

I realise this must seem really negative and like I disliked it. I didn’t, I dislike that it could have been so much better than it was. There are hints of brilliance in it, Guz Khan and Scroobius Pip make a great double act with unbelievable chemistry, which is weird as they apparently hadn’t met until filming started. It is INCREDIBLY funny in parts, and in more than one way. You have slapstick elements, you have class-based humour, you have absurdists comedy, basically, the comedy draws from such a wide variety of sources that even if you don’t like some of the jokes, more will be along soon that you will like. The relationships between the characters are also great to see, and the stories between them are very compelling. It’s also surprisingly progressive in a lot of ways.

So in summary: a good film, but I wanted a great one.

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