THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY

7 out of 10

Release Date: 13th June 2014

Director: Nick Nevern (Terry)

Cast: Nick Nevern, Jason Maza, Tom Burke, Ray Fearon, Lorraine Stanley, Morgan Watkins, Josef Altin, Steven O’Donnell, Keith-Lee Castle, Alex Austin, Ronnie Fox, Juliet Oldfield, Peter Barrett, Michael Lindley, Tony Denham, Cass Pennant, Brett Goldstein, Neil Large, Billy Cook and Leo Gregory with Craig Fairbrass, Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer

Writer: Nick Nevern and Michael Lindley

Trailer: THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY

UnknownTO BE PROOFREAD: Nick Nevern‘s (GBH) second feature as director is a massive improvement on his debut Terry. It’s also a great contrast as this film lampoons the type of film he tried to make with his lousy debut. Less about that though, this is today. The Hooligan Factory sets its store out on the steppes of the hills owned by The Zucker Brothers (NAKED GUN / AIRPLANE) and The Wayans Family (SCARY MOVIE) but instead of doing a humourless spoof like they do, he’s weaved in a decent story with affectionately drawn caricatures.  Starring as the one of the biggest idiots UK cinema has seen since the Jihadi losers on parade in Four Lions, Nick Nevern proves his chops as a very funny comedian (who knew?)  In most of his dramas he often plays a clenched up ball of fury that could pop an eye ball at any minute, he takes his well-worn set of grace notes and points them in a new direction.  Is The Hooligan Factory the long overdue moratorium on shit hooligan films (that often don’t even feature hooligans). One can sense the other filmmakers have sensed this too by rush releasing Top Dog and the surprisingly good bank heist movie Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan.  Like all comedies going in without seeing the trailer would yield quite a bit more comedy gold, but the converted fans who have been following this films progress since the makers were shopping on Facebook for extras, there’s far far less to get tickled by. (Simple maths!)

Danny (JASON MAZA – TEN DEAD MEN) is a jobless no hoper who falls in with recently released from jail football hooligan and firm top dog Dex (NICK NEVERN) and his gang The Hooligan Factory.  Dex wants revenge for the accidental death of his son in a duck pond during a ruck years before with the Baron’s firm (KEITH-LEE CASTLE – DOGHOUSE).  As Danny gets initiated into the firm will he survive the cliches of what it takes to be a real ‘hooligan’?

Jason Maza is usually a dependable dramatic force but he seems stretched and out of his comfort zone in a comedy – it’s probably because his role is a cipher and has less room for quirkiness. He is upstaged left right and centre by the gallery of lunatics like Bullet (TOM BURKE – THE INVISIBLE WOMAN), Midnight (RAY FEARON – CORONATION STREET) and the wonderful Old Bill (STEVEN O’DONNELL – BRING ME THE HEAD OF MAVIS DAVIS) as an undercover cop that nobody spots. There’s a brilliant pastiche of ID – especially the remake of the ‘Gumbo’ scene where the cop blows his cover.  Much fun is had at the expense of the classics like Rise of The Footsoldier, Essex Boys films (classics? hang on), ID and The Firm.  It’s clear that the makers are in love with this genre and are now holding up a stop sign to those that continue to trample on these films with their shit quickies (of which Nick Nevern and co and all had a hand at some stage.) -> Hooligan Wars anyone?

Time will tell if this is the stopper in the bottle.  As a brit comedy, it works well going in cold. It’s a rare thing to find a funny comedy these days that doesn’t rely on the same old jokes. Here’s a film that respects fans of the British lad-flick and rewards us for our time by giving us a real good laugh. It’s packed with cameos from just about every actor you’d care to see from your old favourites. It even has two  former on-screen Pat Tates vying for screen time in one scene. So if you know the territory this comedy works. If you don’t it may limit the appeal although it saves itself by not being too much of a specialist by going the Wayans Brothers route and being a 100 crap joke a minute that only succeeds in replicating the original’s set design and wardrobe.  The Hooligan Factory retains a bold story arc and is all the stronger and funnier for it.  I hope that Nick Nevern and co. team up for another comedy but this doesn’t need a sequel just yet. SPOILER: Fave scene is the Leo Gregory (TOP DOG) “Who’s got a book coming out?” scene. SPOILER END.

7 out of 10 – Very funny old school comedy that knows it’s targets well and it’s as homophobic as they come but then it is set in the 80s. Or is it?

Review by Matt Gusher down below. We think he liked it.

 WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY

  1. Readers expecting a review of yet another senseless addition to the hooligenre may be disappointed (though not surprised) to learn that the title under discussion is atypical of the genre. Whereas most of the films utilising the word ‘hooligan’ are actually films about heists or ice-cream men, THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY diverges from the norm and is in fact a film about the spiritual birth of a football hooligan and the spiritual rebirth of his mentor.

    Indeed, rarely has a film stayed so rigidly within the parameters of the genre as it was originally envisaged prior to its proliferation and bastardisation under the likes of Messrs Tanter, Sothcott, Bell and Phillips. No, THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY, appropriately given its subject matter, harks back to the progenitors of the genre, when Danny Dyer ruled the terraces and Mr Love was in the director’s chair. Whether that is a good or bad thing is for me to judge forthwith.

    Our film, set in the mid-90s, is told by a narrator, a familiar trope of the hooligenre, but one which is difficult to perform effectively (as Nick Nevern, this film’s co-writer, director, producer and co-star has demonstrated elsewhere). Fortunately our narrator is Jason Maza, whose vocal performance is superior to his visual one, which, although effusive and likeable, occasionally strays a little too far into self-consciously ‘comic’ acting (a tendency, for example, to jut out a lip and cross the eyes to indicate bemusement). Maza plays Danny, a young man on the fringes of society. We meet him first as a lovable school scamp and scion to a surly, violent father whose psychopathic tendencies lead to imprisonment. Without a father as a role model, Danny meanders through life (it is surely significant in this phallocentric tale that his mother is inexplicably absent). Following his gay grandfather’s abdication of responsibility, Danny finds succour in the shape of Dexter, a football hooligan ‘legend’, recently released from prison and himself in search of a surrogate son to replace the child lost forever during a fracas with a rival hooligan ‘firm’, with whose leader a reckoning is due. Danny teams up with Dexter whose position as ‘top dog’ of the ‘old firm’ is renewed as Dexter is reunited with his former comrades-in-arms. What follows is a tale of joy, violence, respect, love, unity, disunity, treachery and reconciliation.

    I should also probably point out that it’s a spoof.

    I have sat through more hooligan films than I can believe exist. This is by some distance the best of that benighted woebegone genre. True, there are many misjudgements (the comedy gore in the opening scene before the first joke proper is one example, and for once I’m going to complain about the absence of a pregnant woman in peril), but this hits more targets than it misses, provided you are au fait with the genre. And that’s an important part of the film’s appeal: unlike the Wayans brothers spoofing any film they happen to have heard about, this limits itself to sending up films which are part of the hooligenre. This must have limited its appeal, but on the other hand it means that the film actually caters for its audience.

    The film uses a mixture of actors, both hooligenre specialists and ‘proper’ actors, including a former RSC Othello and a Dad’s Army stalwart using inappropriate language. Besides Maza’s chirpy performance, we have good poker-faced turns from Tom Burke, Ray Fearon, the ever under-used Lorraine Stanley and Steven O’Donnell (especially good as a police informer – that’s not a spoiler), and Keith Lee Castle is an agreeable villain. There are also notable cameos from the likes of Leo Gregory and others.

    But ultimately it’s all about Dexter. In Dexter we have both a fine comic creation, and a piercingly accurate characterisation, beautifully written and intelligently performed by Nick Nevern. Dexter is a survivor, a man of steel, a coward and a leader; a man of contradictions, a man denying his own true urges even as he sates them. But he is no cardboard cut-out hooligan rampaging in the manner we are accustomed to. Well, he is, obviously, but mostly he’s very funny, and surprisingly complex (that’s assuming that the latent bisexual love triangle wasn’t just an excuse for some homophobic jokes). (Even if it is, I think this is the first hooligan film to even consider a gay subtext.)

    Mr Nevern is not, on the basis of this film, amongst the great film directors of our time. But he has provided, perhaps unwittingly, an accurate and unsparing commentary on a genre which has yet to be accorded any degree of respect even on the fringes of the film community, largely because it is a genre which seems (a) to be incapable of producing good films, and (b) revelling in (a) because the cretins who like hooligan films wouldn’t know cinematic genius if it fell on their heads shouting ‘look out, I, Citizen Kane am about to fall on your heads’. And yet by mimicking, mocking and misappropriating the genre, and reflecting it in a comedic fashion, THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY paradoxically becomes the genre’s de facto apex, putting the genre on the map in a way that the numerous Love, Dyer, Tanter and Phillips films failed to. But the film does not exist in order to give a foolish, misogynistic, misanthropic, racist genre an air of respectability, it exists in order to engender laughter, which it succeeds in so long as you don’t watch the trailer which contains all the best jokes. Nevertheless, This is incontestably Nick Nevern’s finest hour. Coming from me that probably sounds sarcastic, particularly as this is knockabout silliness. But there’s more to it than that and it’s genuinely good enough to make me glad I’ve sat through all those hooligan films (almost). And I heartily congratulate him as THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY is even funnier than the hilarious GREEN STREET 3 (which I think was meant to be serious) and I can give it no higher praise than that.

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