There’s Something About Movies is a far better film-centric panel show than it’s given credit for.
I confess. When Sky first announced its panel show, There’s Something About Movies, a little alarm bell went off in my head. Hosted by Alan Carr, the original press announcement had Sky’s head of entertainment, Phil Edgar-Jones, proclaiming “we are somewhere over the rainbow with excitement to have Alan Carr taking a leading role in There’s Something About Movies. It feels like a show only Sky could make and we aim to do for films what A League of their Own has done for sport… make it funny!”
Now, I think Alan Carr is a hugely talented man, but movie light entertainment formats have not been tremendous successes on the small screen. Appreciating it has its fans, I’ve struggled with The Keith & Paddy Picture Show on ITV, but I’m in a minority there. It’s now being turned into live events after all.
ITV ran a series of movie tributes earlier in the decade too, and these did good ratings, but again, I can’t say I was keen. There’s clear enthusiasm and love for the films through those formats, but each time I’ve been left wishing I was watching the film they were talking about instead.
Yet hats off to the team behind There’s Something About Movies: I think it’s an absolute hoot.
It’s a standard panel show format, and let’s face it, they’re not in short supply on British television. But as with most panel shows, it’s the casting that’s the killer here. The choice of Michael Sheen and Micky Flanagan as team captains I found quite inspired: a high profile movie performer on one side, a successful comedian on the other. When it comes to them having to recreate scenes from films as each show hits its denouement, I’ve often been wiping away tears of laughter.
But also, the guest panellists have been really strong. Stars such as Jennifer Saunders, Rupert Everett, Matthew Broderick and Jason Isaacs have been booked, and very much joined in the fun. Then there’s Katherine Ryan’s recreation of Scream, Alice Eve’s broad collection of accents and Emily Mortimer’s priceless story of the birthday present she bought for Martin Scorsese.
Oh, and Rafe Spall on how he blew his chance at playing Doctor Who.
I love too Michael Sheen’s stories of working on movies, such as his story of his audition for The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. They add a genuine movie trivia element to the show. The longer running time than your standard panel show affords space for anyone to go off on an anecdote, and they very often do.
The movie questions themselves are hardly the most testing, but that’s not the point. Instead, it feels like a bunch of movie fans have got together for a boozy evening of movie games, and someone switched the camera on.
I really do think it’s Carr that deserves sizeable credit, too. I think he’s excellent here. A man with an affection for the movies, certainly, but also capable of handling a panel show really well. And also, crucially, getting involved himself. He’s as much a part of the film recreations as the contestants, and he’s very, very funny.
To give an example of the affection for films that the programme shows, there’s a section in each episode where a key moment or stunt from a film is recreated. The opening of Skyfall, for instance, where Daniel Craig plunges into water, saw Carr heading to Pinewood’s water tank to recreate the moment himself. They could have sat in the studio and talked around clips, but instead, they put a shift in. Sure, the show actually shoots at Pinewood, but even so, they get in people who worked on some of the films they talked about, and pass on little nuggets as they go.
If you’ve not given the show a try, I’d suggest you don’t make the same mistake I did. I’d sort of written it off before it started. When I tried an episode, I found myself laughing, and at times laughing hard. It’s a whole lot of fun, with a big chunk of affection for the movies. It’s mainstream to its core, and that’s the platform it needs for its panellists to have fun.
It ain’t going to bolster your Netflix queue with fresh recommendations, but at the end of a long day, it’s a very welcome treat.
A second series of There’s Something About Movies kicks off on Sky early in October, and it’s not paid me a bean – worse luck – for saying so. There’s a change in personnel too, with Flanagan dropping out and Jennifer Saunders replacing him as team captain, opposite the returning Sheen. Florence Pugh is already confirmed as a guest too, adding to a list of credits this year that’s included Midsommar and Fighting With My Family.
And that suggests to me it’s playing to its strengths again. A good panel, strong guests, and a whole lot of legpulling around the movies. Do consider giving it a try.
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