Film Review: Alien Autopsy

Posted in Reviews on April, 12 2006 5:06 PM

Alien AutopsyStarring: Declan Donnelly, Ant McPartlin, Bill Pullman, Harry Dean Stanton, Omid Djalili
Cert: 12A
Released: 7th April 2006

Top documentarian Morgan Banner (Pullman) has travelled across the Atlantic to interview two men who claim to have one of the biggest stories ever. Ray Santilli (Dec) and Gary Shoefield (Dec) are fairly unassuming individuals but start to reveal that they were responsible for one of the World's greatest and unelaborate scams.

Flashback to 1995 where Santilli is selling pirate videos on the market and Shoefield is an unappreciated law clerk. Santilli is desperately trying to get his friend out of his hum-drum lifestyle and start taking a few risks. So desperate that he sells Shoefield's car for a trip to America to buy Elvis memorabilia.

While they are there Santilli is offered the chance to view, and purchase, an old film reel circa 1947 from Harvey (Stanton), the cameraman responsible. It is genuine footage of a dead alien being taken to a research facility and being cut open.

Unfortunately neither Santilli or Shoefield have the kind of money that Harvey is asking for so they seek the funds from a psychotic, crop-circle enthusiast.

A deal is struck and Santilli returns with the reel to discover the picture has corrupted during the flight. With nothing to show for the gangster's $30,000 investment Santilli devises a plan to recreate the scene using his every day chums skills.

There's his gran's boyfriend who makes mannequins, his mate at the undertakers who can do makeup, there's the kebab shop owner (Djalili) who has a camera and the butcher who can provide internal organs.

The result is accepted as the bona fide article so Santilli decides to try to sell the film to a few local businessmen who may then decide to stock video copies. The national press finds out and then the World is vying for exclusive rights to air it.

The lads' troubles are not over though as their original investor decides to up his take in the operations, the CIA get nervous and a ruthless reporter tracking down Harvey all threaten to undermine their scam.

I have a confession. I think Ant and Dec are quite amusing. I'm not sure that their shows deserve to win 'comedy' awards but they carry a certain charisma and cheeky way about them that makes me chuckle. Their 'Byker Grove' years obviously mark them as actors (of a sorts) so the jump to the big screen was probably inevitable and Alien Autopsy was not the worst choice they could have made.

Based on the 'true' story of the release of the alien autopsy footage back in 1995, one supposes this is the real Santilli's and Shoefield's confession of fraudulent antics but with the phrase 'based on' also comes 'pinch of salt'.

So, personally I put aside the reality aspect and since I'm not offended by Ant and Dec (as much as some around here) I think I can be fairly objective about all this.

It's pretty poor really. For a comedy, I mean. I just found it lacking in anything that could be considered to be an actual joke. Aside from the initial premise of likely lads getting into hot water beyond their depths and a few risible characters it's just devoid of anything specifically funny.

The acting is all pretty good with Ant and Dec getting beyond their TV personas which I actually think is a mistake as it now seems that their repartee is somewhat forced rather than the free-for-all haranguing they perform on the small screen.

It's all very nicely filmed with varying styles from the wobbly documentary, expansive American vistas and authentic 1940's newsreel but, again, the story just doesn't have any punch to it. Once the film's premise has been revealed (which takes a while to get to) it becomes tired quickly, loses any pace it managed to build and then trundles along again at a snail's pace. Gags are repeated, set pieces are contrived and characters are two-dimensional.

Alien Autopsy will probably be a great disappointment to Ant and Dec detractors because it's not a complete disaster. It will probably be the greatest film EVAH to Ant and Dec fans who like to just stare at them. Otherwise, it's a mediocre ninety minutes of not-very-much to the rest of us.


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