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  Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door Utter Bastards
Year: 1987
Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmonson, Peter Cook, Peter Richardson, Nicholas Parsons, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Michael Cule, Basil Ho Yen, Thomas Wheatley, Gordon Kane, Gerard Kelly, Granville Saxton, Bazil Otoin, Philip Locke, Ian Bartholomew
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Dreamytime Escorts service consists of two men (Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson) who like nothing better in life than a stiff drink, and it is their continual goal to secure as much alcohol as they can find. Today they have been brought in for questioning by the police, who have taken them to a morgue to identify a body, though once more the duo are more interested in drinking, managing to accidentally smash the bottle they have and resorting to the embalming fluid as an substitute. The cops want to know if they recognise the deceased, and they do, it's Fatty who owes them money, but he won't wake up and pay up due to being dead, not that the escorts are concerned for his welfare...

Was there anything more like music to the ears of British comedy fans in the nineteen-eighties than the sound of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson yelling at one another at the very top of their voices? This decade was very good to them, starting from nightclub appearances where they honed their over the top personas then to a stratospheric rise thanks to the groundbreaking sitcom The Young Ones which was the talk of every playground for the two series it ran. But their output was so prolific that it was almost impossible to keep up with it all: at the same time they became household names for ver kids they were also appearing as The Dangerous Brothers and in the ensemble series The Comic Strip Presents...

It was from that latter production that Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door was created, and for many it represented its apex. It could be observed that this programme was very much made for the cast and writers (often one and the same) and if anyone else found it funny that was a bonus, but it did run for the whole of the eighties and beyond, often on Channel 4 (though the BBC beckoned for a while), and spawned a few cinema releases as well. Most of those were feature length, but in the case of this it was evidently considered effective enough to stand on its own as a short, or just over fifty minutes at least. When it was broadcast as an episode on television a few months later, its reputation was secure.

With all that alcohol fuelling the main characters, it was only right that Mayall and Edmonson, assisted by their co-writer Roland Rivron, were essaying the most perfect distillation of their comedy personas, the constantly arguing, recklessly idiotic, hedonistic and obliviously risk taking while essentially pathetic and cowardly friends who surely are only hanging around together because nobody else will put up with them. You could argue that was at its purest in their sitcom Bottom, which appeared shortly after this (and also had its spin-off movie), but there was something about this effort's devil may care quality that carried the viewer along with it, almost willing the comedians on to further heights of lunacy - or deeper depths of degradation.

It was notable for other reasons as well; giving his blessing to an alternative comedy he was in no small way a godfather to, Peter Cook was the eponymous Mr Jolly, a mass murdering maniac whose office is next to Dreamytime Escorts, carrying out assassinations on his targets until the time comes to take out British gameshow legend Nicholas Parsons (as himself). As a mix-up ensues, the escorts end up taking him out - for a night on the tiles, starting at the Dorchester where they offend common decency by getting roaring drunk and lighting their farts at the table, then back to Nick's place to raid his drinks cabinet. In any other hands this would be hard to take, its sheer obnoxiousness leaving most throwing up their hands in horror, but with Mayall and Edmonson it was curiously welcoming, knowing they were going to go too far in their anything for a laugh stylings but more often than not hitting the funny bone. That hit rate is very high here in possibly the funniest thing they ever did together; they equalled it in many ways, but never surpassed it.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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