Whatever Happened to Pete Blaggit?
It all actually starts quite promisingly. The charmingly crap faux advertisement that plays before the less charmingly crap opening titles isn’t actually funny, but it’s the kind of scene you might expect to come before lots of other, funnier scenes. No such joy here.
The titular Pete (Leetham) is a staggeringly unlikeable cocksocket whose wedding video business collapses after he ruins someone’s nuptials with a sweary and utterly unfunny breakdown. His ex-wife (Amies) wants him out of the house. Some bald men want the money he owes someone, or they’ll “stab him in the eyes.” He thinks he’s hearing voices, and he’s definitely getting some weird, zombie-style hallucinations. All this, and he’s been abducted and raped by aliens. Wait, what?
The only real way to enjoy Pete Blaggit is to count the number of wild, schizophrenic shifts in tone and genre, from Britcom to sci-fi to crime caper to weepy-drama to Kronenberg-esque body horror to time travel-based philosophical piece. By the time Pete has been tied up in a heist job by a mysterious Russian who looks eerily like him in order to pay off debts as a result of a roulette scheme gone wrong, caring has become a struggle comparable to the one Sisyphus had with that rock.
It’s really tempting to go soft on this film; after all, it’s a homegrown British production that’s as DIY as they come, and clearly the result of a lot of hard graft. But you don’t need big studio support to be funny. You don’t need a massive crew to work out that no-one is going to like your protagonist if you reveal that he was responsible for the death of his infant son. You don’t need to be on your tenth film to realise that if one of your set pieces is a wedding between a white woman and a black man, his brother isn’t going to be the only other black person in attendance. And you really, really don’t need to have written many scripts to realise that repeated use of the word ‘faggot’ just isn’t on, especially this side of the pond. Besides, the budget for this debacle was apparently £100,000. Must have had a bitchin’ catering setup.
But maybe I’m wrong; this actually won a British Independent Film Award for Best Feature, so somewhere there’s a panel of judges who thought it was wicked. Pray that they’re never asked to operate heavy machinery around sad-faced children.