Destination: Dewsbury is a laugh-out-loud comedy from the mind of the young genius known as Jack Spring. Spring has an abundance of talent, and is destined to become a major British director. This is a director and writer who understands what makes good comedy, and appreciates the craft.
Born in 1996 (yes, you read that correctly), Spring grew up under the wing of Directors such as Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson. He enjoyed success throughout his teenage years and after representing the UK at Union de Cinema Internationlaze 2014 Spring was offered the chance to direct his debut feature, Destination: Dewsbury. The film is released on the 1st March, and is worth checking out for those who are fans of films like Shaun of the Dead, The Hangover and sitcoms such as The Inbetweeners and Spaced.
The film starts in the 80s (back when, ”Freddo’s only cost two pence”) where we join five friends who are your typical troublemakers at school, the kind of lads who love a bit of banter. Flash forward twenty years on and they’re stuck in dead-end jobs and bad relationships. Our narrator is Peter (Matt Sheahan), who has somehow ended up teaching in the school that he used to attend back when he was in his youth. Peter has become somewhat isolated from his merry gang, and it isn’t until he receives word that Frankie (the leader of the group) is now on death’s door.
Like all good comedy road trip movies, Peter decides to get the gang back together in order for them to visit Frankie for one last time. There’s Gaz (Dan Shelton) a doting husband and dad, who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. There’s Smithy (Tom Gilling) who is a hopeless romantic still living with his mum. And there’s Adam (David J. Keogh), a big time banker who swears like a sailor and is caught up in a dodgy deal with the Russian mafia. Reunited after all these years, the gang proceed on their journey only to encounter strange coach drivers, a hotel for BDSM loving tourists and a creepy, stalker ex-classmate who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘personal space’.
There’s a lot to like about Destination: Dewsbury, with its crude language and larger-than-life situations. Certain events that occur are the type that only take place within the world of fiction, but the film’s absurdness makes it even more enjoyable. This is the type of film that those who are easily offended with might not enjoy. So beware of this, and if you have a weak stomach then maybe fast forward a certain scene involving a toilet.
Spring clearly has an ear for dialogue. These characters often exchange insults at each other which will most likely shock your grandma. But you can’t help but laugh at some of the lines which are said because they are so outlandish.
The film’s performances are strong, with Keogh standing out as the most memorable with his extremely angry banker, Adam. Keogh’s character is the most developed, and towards the end of the film, our impression of him changes. Sheahan is amusing as the stuck-up Peter, but his character can be very irritating at times. The other characters seem a little clichéd in places, and under-developed, but the actors deliver decent performances.
The film was shot mostly in Yorkshire, and there’s something rather comforting about watching a film set in the UK. Some who aren’t familiar with the UK, may not get certain references (I suspect some are you are wondering what a ‘Freddo’ is exactly), and the humour may not be your cup of tea. This isn’t your typical British ‘Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant’ comedy. As previously mentioned, the film’s lewd comedy is hard to handle in certain places, but I suspect it will appeal to many viewers out there.
There’s a few grumbles to be had. Firstly, the film has a rather short runtime of just 86 minutes long, which was a shame as I was left wanting more. In some places the film’s narrative seemed a little too familiar and formulaic. When the film lets loose, and becomes more unpredictable then it is a lot more fun. The film had a low budget of just £150,000, and sometimes this can be seen with the choice of locations or production design, but what low budget film doesn’t suffer from this issue?
There are laughs-a-plenty to be had here, and I laughed so hard at one certain scene that I nearly choked on my tea! Overall, Destination: Dewsbury is a very strong debut film and something that Spring should be immensely proud of.