Burke and Hare (15)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Oct 26 2010

If comedy is tragedy plus time, it stands to reason that the more time passes, the more tragic the event we can be persuaded to laugh at.  The murder of sixteen people – and the sale of their bodies for medical research – doesn’t exactly scream ‘comedy gold’, but set it in the nineteenth century, make it more a tale of poverty, pratfalls and political intrigue than actual hands-on killing, and hire ‘American Werewolf’ maestro John Landis to direct, and bingo. While ‘Burke and Hare’ can’t claim the wit, style and invention of Landis’s earlier grisly masterpiece, it does mark a major return to form for a director who has spent the better part of a decade in the wilderness. Rest assured, it’s a hell of an improvement on ‘Beverly Hills Cop 3’.

Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis play William Burke and William Hare, Irish immigrants to Edinburgh who turn to body-snatching when other enterprises dry up. As the presence of two such likeable actors might suggest, Burke and Hare aren’t the villains here, just hapless ne’er-do-wells desperate for cash. The real bad guys are, well, just about everyone else: Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry as devious doctors, Hugh Bonneville as the sleazy surgeon general and David Hayman as cut-throat gangster MacTavish.

And it’s this rogue’s gallery of homegrown comedy and character acting talent which makes ‘Burke and Hare’ the pleasure it is: Pegg and Serkis are relaxed and likeable in the leads, Wilkinson and Curry hissable as their adversaries, and there’s sterling support from five decades of familiar comedy and classic horror faces: Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter, Bill Bailey, Reece Shearsmith, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Merchant. The gold star goes to Ronnie Corbett’s impeccably infuriated turn as short-arse militia captain McLintock, though a single-scene cameo from Paul Whitehouse as a tuneless inebriate runs him close.

The one bum note is struck by Isla Fisher as Burke’s would-be girlfriend Ginny, but it’s hardly her fault: her Scots accent just about holds to the end of the movie, but her part feels awkwardly bolted on to provide romantic interest and sexual frisson. It doesn’t work: when the rest of the plot concerns dastardly deeds done down dark alleys, the sight of Pegg and Fisher making eyes at one another feels clumsy and inappropriate.

Landis directs like an old pro, cluttering the screen with intriguing little details (surgical tools, scientific equipment, body parts) and displaying a nice line in absurdist comic asides. The humour may be too broad in places – corpse-based slapstick pales with repetition – but, for the most part, ‘Burke and Hare’ is well-timed and often funny. Whether we ought to be laughing at this sort of thing is another matter, and reading into the actual facts of the case (most of the victims were women, Hare shopped Burke to save his own skin) does leave the movie feeling slightly vulgar and tasteless – but doesn’t prevent it from being highly entertaining.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Oct 29, 2010

Duration:

91 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

John Landis

Screenwriter:

Piers Ashworth

Cast:

Isla Fisher, Simon Pegg, Tim Curry, Christopher Lee

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|32
1 person listening
tonylid

instead of looking for some deep meaning to a film why not just go out to enjoy it for what it is - a slapstick comedy of laugh out loud proprotions. as it says at the beginning, the following evebts are true except for those that are not. 5 stars from me.

tonylid

instead of looking for some deep meaning to a film why not just go out to enjoy it for what it is - a slapstick comedy of laugh out loud proprotions. as it says at the beginning, the following evebts are true except for those that are not. 5 stars from me.

Gort

I think that Landis tried to give comment on current situation with jobs and value of human life. This is a movie in stile of "Capitalism a love story" and "Inside job" in other words when you watch it you are shocked how things are still the same.

Pedro B

Help help can someome review this film instead of squabbling about how many people might have seen it and popularity lists.What was it like ???

StatGirl

I went and saw this with boyfriend and wasn’t impressed with it. Everyone’s allowed mistakes, and Simon Pegg’s made one appearing in this. Two stars seems generous. There seems a huge difference in opinion over this film, and also some people claiming the audience was full. There’s a simple way to resolve this - Time Out lists the past 3 days’ box office takings, and the number of cinemas where a film’s shown (click on menu bar at top of this screen) - this would account for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. At the point of writing (12noon on Mon 8 Nov 10): £942,894 at 390 screens in the UK. With ticket prices varying amongst the big cinema chains in the UK from £7.10 to £16.50 (Odeon West End) - quickly check online if you’re not sure, let’s say an average ticket costs £9. It’s a 15-rated film, so no child price tickets. Most cinemas have 4 showings a day (particularly at weekend), but nonetheless let’s trim that down to 2.5 showings a day across the weekend to account for more local cinemas. So here’s the math: *** £942,894 divided by 390 screens = average of £2417.68 per cinema for the 3 days. Divide £2,417.68 by 3 days/evenings across the weekend. That’s £805.89p per cinema per day. Now divide that by the average 2.5 showings a day - that’s an average of £322.36 per cinema per day. Finally, divide £322.36 by the average ticket price of £9 - which gives an average audience of 35 people per showing. Anyone claiming this is a popular film has a fertile imagination or is l***** Changing any of the "averages" here still doesn’t make this a popular film, when a cinema usually holds a couple of hundred people - at least. *** Like I say, I didn’t think it was good, and the revenue across the weekend prove it.

molly

funnily enough, i went to see this yesturday with my boyfriend and thought it was hilarious at times! i must agree with anthony, i thought it was quirky and original and very amusing and i thoroughly enjoyed the plot, there only seemed to be one unhappy viewer sitting along side me but i think it was because he felt un easy at the site of blood, guts and the dead and is generally a poopy person and lies on the internet to try and convince his girlfriend not to see a great movie... 5 stars!!! :D

molly

funnily enough, i went to see this yesturday with my boyfriend and thought it was hilarious at times! i must agree with anthony, i thought it was quirky and original and very amusing and i thoroughly enjoyed the plot, there only seemed to be one unhappy viewer sitting along side me but i think it was because he felt un easy at the site of blood, guts and the dead and is generally a poopy person and lies on the internet to try and convince his girlfriend not to see a great movie... 5 stars!!! :D

James

Went to see this film with my girlfriend yesterday, and have been planning on seeing it for some time. Some of the jokes were quirky and the film had a fun feel, but it was boring and the acting was sub-par. I have enjoyed seeing Pegg's films, but his most recent has been disappointing.

Daisy A

This is a comedy of the classic style. Its funny and big hearted and packed full of incredible comedians. I loved it. So did everyone else at the Odeon West End where I saw it.

roger rabbit

Eh i switched off after 15mins...& i was given a dvd rip so was charlie st cloud,wall st 2 , & social network god almighty thank god for cheap drink at local supermarket

Mike

I'm going to disagree, ScrumpyJack. If a film's so bad that other people leave, I'd want to know about it if I was visiting this site to find out from audience reviews whether the film was worth seeing. With tickets easily in the £13-15 range in the West End, I'd want to know if a film stank. Aware that the film was only 90 minutes long, I left after an hour, feeling that staying for the remaining 30 minutes was a waste of valuable life. A couple in the audience felt likewise only a minute or two before me. The advantage of this site is that regulars like you and I can leave genuine opinions. Unfortunately that's open to abuse from film marketing departments, film distributors, and others in the film industry, including directors, actors, budding actors, etc all of whom have a considerable financial interest in making even a desperate flop come close to paying for itself. You must have noticed the "new" audience comments left 9.30 onwards on a Monday morning on films that have had bad reviews from regulars all through the weekend. It's reasonable to expect differing opinions. I'd want to know if a film was bad. I really disliked Burke & Hare. It seems I'm not alone. Subjectivity.

jono

What a truly bizzare set of responses ! 'Crystal' claims that 50% of a paying audience walked out. (Something I have never seen in twenty years of cinema going - although I am excluding fire alarms...). And 'Mike' tells me there were twelve people occupying a cinema built for three hundred. And yet I went to a full theatre with an appreciative audience ! Either this is the most devisive film since Ealing Studios was set up, or there is some kind of agenda at work here which I just don't understand. And no, I don't work for a "marketing department" - I'm just a film fan,

Anthony

This is my favorite film of the year so far. Quirky, original and so eccentric and witty. It's like a period episode of spaced.

Anthony

This is my favorite film of the year so far. Quirky, original and so eccentric and witty. It's like a period episode of spaced.

Mike

I went to see this on “Orange Wednesday�, when any film worth its salt packs ‘em in, as there’s a 2 for 1 cinema ticket deal. There were 12 of us in a Central London cinema that takes 300+! By the time I walked out after an hour, there were only 7 left. Not as bad as Crystal’s experience below, but still bad. This film is tedious – just plain terrible. The couple in front of me were having an open conversation about his day at work – their conversation was more interesting than this film. I don’t agree with Crystal about this film going straight to DVD, it should have been abandoned. Be warned: - To me it looks like film industry marketing departments have been busy filling this page with fake 4 and 5 star reviews. This film is worth 1 star at best. Avoid. Alternatively, take your duvet and you can have a snooze – you won’t miss anything.

Crystal

Q) How bad does a film have to be to lose 50% of its audience? A) As bad as Burke & Hare. This film isn’t vaguely funny, it’s badly scripted and boring, it’s poorly acted, and the pratfalls are terrible. “Alice� the only thing this film is reminiscent of is b0110cks. Made for DVD. PS Is it true the corpses they use in this film are the bodies of actors who expired when they realised just what a terrible film this was going to be and that it’d mark the end of their careers anyway?

Alice

Just ignore all the critics and make up your own mind. It is a very watchable film, not full of belly laughs, just an enjoyable film and slightly reminiscent of the old Ealing films.

bubbles

The comment you type in this box will appear on the sitWhat a jolly romp! The subject matter is rather appaling but the script and the dfirection have turned it into a very amusing and at times hilarious movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of unexpected faces pop up along the3 way to keep us amused and interested. Great fun.

Jono

I found the film amusing and - odd though it may sound - rather charming. The audience around me were laughing a lot, despite some reviewers having deliberately "leaked" a numberr of the visual jokes to expect. Overall, I found the film much more enjoyable than the reviews had indicated : has John Landis secretly done something which annoyed the film reviewing establishment ???

Rick

I love it when films like this divide everyones opinions so dramatically. Comedy is such a subjective thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it. 4 stars!

Nick

I went to see this film with high expectations, mostly because of the level of talent in the cast... How wrong I was. After the first 20 minutes or so, the few gags here and there had dried up, and the 'jokes' were totally unfunny. Also, completely un-needed side story about an all female cast of Macbeth (no laughs, accents waivering) Simon Pegg has definately left behind the great days of Shaun of the Dead and Spaced!

Rachel

For a "dark comedy" this film was surprisingly romantic and charming. Serkis is hilarious and totally evil. Pegg and Fisher have great chemistry. The film wasn't what I was expecting, it was better.

Rachel

For a "dark comedy" this film was surprisingly romantic and charming. Serkis is hilarious and totally evil. Pegg and Fisher have great chemistry. The film wasn't what I was expecting, it was better.

Helen

This film is AWESOME. Love the Pegg, but Serkis is the star of this one. So hilariously evil. Just don't understand some of the crap reviews i've read, the cinema i was in was packed and everyone was cracking up all the way through.

Helen

This film is AWESOME. Love the Pegg, but Serkis is the star of this one. So hilariously evil. Just don't understand some of the crap reviews i've read, the cinema i was in was packed and everyone was cracking up all the way through.

Elin

Just been to see this. It's so funny. Pegg and serkis really are the evil laurel and hardy. Proper british comedy. 4*