Film, Comedy
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

A washed-up TV star comes out of retirement in this loose but very funny British comedy starring Julian Barratt of 'The Mighty Boosh'

In the tradition of cringeworthy comedy characters like Alan Partridge and Steven Toast, the fictional actor Richard Thorncroft – star of this extremely funny Britcom – is a deluded has-been. Created by ‘Mighty Boosh’ actors Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Thorncroft (played by Barratt) had a brush with celebrity in the ’80s as the star of the ‘Bergerac’-like TV detective show ‘Mindhorn’ set on the Isle of Man; Mindhorn’s bionic eye meant he could literally see the truth. Fame came crashing down when, pissed as a fart, he fell off a sofa on ‘Wogan’ while slagging off his co-star (Steve Coogan) and calling the Isle of Man ‘a shithole’. Fast forward 30 years, he’s living in a grotty flat in Walthamstow reduced to advertising a brand of man-Spanx.

‘Mindhorn’ definitely feels like a a half-hour sitcom episode stretched across 90 minutes. But Barratt and Farnaby have come up with a comedy action-thriller scenario that just about works, and the gags-per-minute ratio is through the roof. Thorncroft hasn’t had an audition in months when his agent calls with a request from the Isle of Man police. A psychotic ‘Mindhorn’ fan is on the loose and will only deal with Detective Mindhorn himself. Seizing the opportunity to grab a bit of publicity and raise his profile, Thorncroft signs up to play his famous character one last time.

Thorncroft is a gem of comedy creation – played to perfection by Barratt. A rampant egomaniac, trapped in his own vanity, IRL he’d make your skin crawl. He would be embittered by failure if he wasn’t convinced that he’s still a national treasure. High-profile cameos by Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow cleverly show up his fizzling career. And the detail is brilliant, from Thorncroft’s pre-audition warm-up (repeating the tongue-twister: ‘The Benedict Cumberbatch backlash has begun’) to his hit ’80s single, ‘You Can’t Handcuff the Wind’. As a celebration of naff British telly – a gentler time of male TV stars with chest hair and paunchy guts breaking into a light trot in pursuit of villains, totty swarming all over them – this is comedy gold.

By: Cath Clarke


Release details

Release date:
Friday May 5 2017
89 mins

Cast and crew

Sean Foley
Julian Barratt, Simon Farnaby
Julian Barratt
Simon Farnaby
Andrea Riseborough

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

Those familiar with Julian Barratt (of Mighty Boosh fame) can rightly expect a tour de force of silliness from this film. However while the plot is fascicle, but despite plenty of surreal moments, on the whole, it's still more grounded in reality than 'The Boosh' ever was. 

There are also more plot twists than I was expecting for a comedy of this nature which I think made me love the film all the more. I thought it was totally hilarious and am looking forward to watching it again at some point. The photos below are from a screening I went to with a Q & A after with the director and key cast at Genesis Cinema shortly before the film's general release.


I giggled throughout this and you will too if you like things like The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and Nathan Barley. Julian Barratt stars as a washed-up actor who no longer plays detective Mindhorn based on the Isle of Man. When a killer says he'll kill again if he doesn't speak to the detective 25 years later, he must reprise his role to help (but really he's just trying to help his floundering career). Incredibly silly, the one-liners and slapstick hit the spot and I probably annoyed people laughing a little too loud on the plane. If Alan Partridge melded with Bergerac, this is the result you would get!


If you're a fan of Julian Barratt (most notably of Mighty Boosh fame), you'll probably love him in Mindhorn. It's one of the funniest, proper laugh-out-loud movies I've seen in a long time. The premise of a past-it 80s TV detective being taken out of retirement to help the police is clever. The movie has the same level of humour as Anchorman and is clearly done with a lot of affection for shows like Bergerac, Morse etc. It’s shot very authentically and proudly on the Isle of Man and pokes fun at it in the same way the Alan Partridge movie did with Norfolk. It's a genuinely decent, good quality and hilarious British movie and definitely one I'll see again and again.