Mindhorn ended up being a minor box office success in the UK after a successful festival run, including a slot at the London Film Festival. However, everywhere else in the world the film was released on Netflix instead n cinemas.
It’s a directorial debut for Sean Foley, who has an extensive history of directing stage plays, including the long-running hit, The Play What I Wrote. Julian Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft. An actor who played a character called Mindhorn on a fictitious ’80s TV show of the same name. It’s an homage parody of shows from the ’70s and early ’80s, like Knight Rider, Starsky and Hutch and the Six Million Dollar Ma,n but set on the Isle of Man. Thorncroft is, of course, completely washed up, but a serial killer on the Isle of Man thinks Mindhorn was a documentary series, so the cops have to call him in to try to solve the murders.
It’s all a bit like that Alan Partridge film that came out a few years back in tone, but simply not as good or funny. The Partridge connection actually goes pretty far—Steve Coogan appears as Thorncroft’s former Mindhorn co-star and sworn enemy Peter Eastman, who hates Thorncroft mainly because he ended up becoming much more successful than him. Coogan, of course, can’t help but to play the role like an alternative version of Alan Partridge.
The first 50 minutes of the film are pretty solid, but when the whole conspiracy angle starts ramping up the film begins to run out of steam very quickly. Barratt is best known for being one of the co-creators of The Mighty Boosh, and it does feel like the idea for Mindhorn would’ve probably been better suited as a TV sitcom than feature-length film. It does present a spot-on parody of those dated shows, however, but that’s basically a five-minute sketch that opens the film.
That said, the whole film runs for less than 90 minutes so it hardly outstays it’s welcome—and even while it falls apart fairly spectacularly, it’s still enjoyable. It does also feature two very amusing cameos from Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow playing themselves. The disc includes a making-of feature, interviews and assorted other special features.