Compared to the media blitzkrieg that greeted the releases of ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ and ‘Anchorman 2’, ‘The Harry Hill Movie’ is a triumph of stealth marketing: a few bus ads aside, it’s basically been left to fend for itself. Which is a shame, because this has bigger laughs (if not nearly enough of them) and wilder ideas than either – provided you’re tuned into Hill’s idiosyncratic brand of slyly subversive, surreally silly seaside slapstick. The plot is frankly idiotic, involving Harry’s grotty nan (Julie Walters), his beloved hamster Abu (Johnny Vegas) and his evil long-lost brother who was raised by alsatians (Matt Lucas).
There’s not enough here to sustain 88 minutes, too many of the jokes fall flat and the image of Julie Walters rapping isn’t one you’ll be able to shift soon. But the set-piece gags are memorable: a satnav with the voice of a Yakuza boss (‘we would be honoured if you would take the second exit’), a psychedelic B&B run by The Magic Numbers, a completely apropos-of-nothing dance routine to ‘Nutbush City Limits’ in Lucas’s evil lair, and best of all a game cameo from Jim Broadbent as a mutant charlady at a nuclear power plant. There will be those who find ‘The Harry Hill Movie’ about as amusing as a trip to the dentist. They’re wrong.