Directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
“From the award-winning team behind the hit series “The Office.”
’70s England is in full swing as three outcast friends find themselves drinking, joking, fighting and chasing girls, while dreaming of escape from their blue-collar hometown of Cemetery Junction. Freddie (Christian Cooke) is a salesman suddenly thrown onto the fast track when he gains the attention of his boss, Mr. Kendrick (Ralph Fiennes). Torn between a prior life of partying with his friends (Tom Hughes and Jack Doolan) and the promise of a brighter future, life gets more complicated when the boss’s daughter becomes the focus of Freddie’s affection. Also starring Ricky Gervais and Emily Watson.”
“Cemetery Junction” is rated R for language and some sexual material.
The story of “Cemetery Junction” is nothing new. It’s the tale of a small town boy who longs to get out of the town he grew up in, see the world, and make something of himself. While it’s a familiar plot, it’s the execution that makes it entertaining. First of all, you have an excellent cast. You get to see veterans like Ralph Fiennes, Ricky Gervais, and Emily Watson do their thing. Fiennes stands out as a particularly dull, soulless, inconsiderate boss and husband. I never thought of him as standing out in a comedy, but he does here. But the relative unknowns are excellent as well. Christian Cooke as Freddie Taylor is a fantastic lead. He’s youthful, energetic, and good looking. You root for him to make his dreams come true. Tom Hughes as Bruce Pearson looks like a young Mick Jagger while having a chip on his shoulder the size of England. He perfectly captures the frustration of the character while still making him likable. Jack Doolan also is excellent as Snork, the idiotic third member of the trio and the one with no sense of what to say and when to say it. Felicity Jones was also great as Julie. She serves as Freddie’s inspiration for his travels and her youthful energy makes her appealing to the audience. It’s interesting that despite all the romantic tension built up in the film, we never once see them kiss.
This cast delivers a great mix of drama and laughs in the film. We see one of Mr. Kendrick’s long time employees sent off after 43 years of service with an undignified farewell and a glass fruit bowl (their second choice on a gift). Anybody slaving away for a major corporation can identify with the sense of drudgery. Then there’s Snork’s obscene yet hilariously awful tattoo on his chest and back. Freddie also has some great scenes with his father (Gervais) and his grandmother who bicker back and forth while making racist comments. It’s no wonder Freddie wants to escape. It ends up being a good mix of in-your-face humor along with the more subtle variety.
I also have to mention the 70’s setting of “Cemetery Junction.” We’re treated to a visually interesting mix of costumes, hairdos, and cars. But the music also stands out. We get to hear Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Quiet Riot, and more. It’s a great soundtrack and you may find yourself buying more than one of the songs online when you’re done watching the film.
If you’re looking for a feel-good comedy with a little raunchiness, then “Cemetery Junction” is a film you’re going to want to check out.
You’ll find a pretty good selection of bonus features on the DVD. There are two commentaries, one with the directors and one with the cast. There’s also a selection of deleted scenes, a long blooper reel (which with Gervais is always entertaining), an interview with Gervais and Merchant, and more. There’s also an interview with the cast and I have to say it’s a bit weird to see them with the 70’s hairdos and clothes.