To be able to laugh at oneself is an admirable trait, and one that has been used by stars to compensate for careers that may be largely made of very un-stellar work. Here are two films that do just that, from two very different stars.
Danny (Marc Pickering) works as a runner on a breakfast TV show where he lusts after its bland presenter, Dawn (Susannah Fielding). When co-host Cliff (David Easter) announces he is leaving the show, his possible replacements are named, including Joe Pasquale, Tony Blackburn and Keith Chegwin. But their lives are threatened when they start to be hunted down by a brutal killer…
Keith Chegwin is a man known primarily for being the living embodiment of the bottom of the barrel, with a career that has spanned Swap Shop and Naked Jungle. As such he lends himself brilliantly to sending himself up, which, to his credit, he is more than happy to do.
This is an incredibly daft film from beginning to end which could probably have been made consistently funny with a bit of rewriting. As it is it’s occasionally amusing, and better when it tries to be original, satirising daytime TV, instead of relying on tried and tested jokes from other films.
The other celebrity guests also do well in their brief cameos, although Tony Blackburn was clearly unwilling or unable to play the part they wanted him for, resulting in a baffling plot device where he plays a body double for the “real” Tony Blackburn, who looks nothing like him. I didn’t understand it either.
Chegwin is the highlight of this film, and the bits he’s not in don’t measure up to the admirable level of self parody and enthusiasm he injects into his scenes. The film’s plot is bizarre and nonsensical, but for a low budget film called Kill Keith it could certainly have been worse. Cheggers is at his best when he’s sending himself up, but Cheggers at his best still may not be enough for most.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, the man with twice as many names as he needs, plays Jean-Claude Van Damme, a man who seems to have got his names on buy one get one free.
Anyone who’s seen that Volvo ad knows that Jean Claude Van Damme is a man with a lot to be proud of, but the quality of the films he’s been in probably isn’t on the list. When he faced a lawsuit, the prosecution accused him of faking his martial arts, to which his own defence attorney said “just look at his movies; he didn’t get those roles on his acting ability!” JCVD is his confessional, as he finally levels with his audience and treats them as intelligent following a career of dumbed down films.
He plays a movie star down on his luck as he fights a custody battle and keeps losing his parts to Steven Segal. While filming in Belgium he unwittingly becomes involved in a post office hold-up. He sends himself up enormously and presents himself as a down-and-out loser. In one extended scene he talks directly to camera, laying himself bare and displaying his genuine talents as an actor. Rarely is a movie star this honest.
The heist aspects of the film are weaker, as they feel unoriginal and aren’t that interesting. The action is also far thinner on the ground than in the majority of the Van Damme back catalogue, as you’d expect in a post modern, self deprecating send up, but it’s also a shame we don’t get to see more of JCVD’s trademark kicks.
It’s certainly higher in quality than Kill Keith, but also not as much fun.