Sunday, July 19, 2009

Overlooked DVD of the month - BIGGA THEN BEN

BIGGA THAN BEN is sporadically very funny, continuously inventive low-budget British comedy about two Russian teens who come to London to make it big. With no qualifications or legitimate work visas, they rely on their fellow Russian ex-pats teaching them how to scam credit card companies and other petty swindles. Based on a book by a genuine Russian ex-pat, the movie delights in poking fun in the British system, and has an admirably honest approach to depicting the shittiness of London weather and the harsh side of London life. The first hour is indeed very funny, very fast-paced and features a nice satirical voice-over from one of the pair (played by Narnia's Prince Caspian). The final half hour of this short film takes a darker turn, as the other kid takes to drugs. Writer-director Suzie Hazelwood doesn't quite manage to pull off the transition to the darker material in the same way as, for example, TRAINSPOTTING did. In fact, by the end of the movie, I had thought it might've worked better as a 55 minute TV special, taking the very best of the material from the feature film. Still, for the faltering ending, BIGGA THEN BEN provides more than enough laughs to repay a viewing, and it's good to see Ben Barnes in a funnier, less epic role.

BIGGA THAN BEN opened in Russia, the UK and the US in autumn 2008. It is available on DVD.

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