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Circus (2000)

Don’t trust any of these clowns

Directed by:

Rob Walker

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom, United States

Disappointingly, ‘Circus’ has nothing to do with overly-long trapeze acts, custard battles or a group of ten elephants standing on one tiny up-turned bucket. It would probably be better if it did, not because it would be any more entertaining, but because it would at least make some slim degree of sense.

John Hannah plays the lead role of Leo, a Scottish crim who, alongside American ladyfriend Lily (Famke Janssen), is in the process of planning one last scam in order to make his fortune and spend the rest of his days on some tropical paradise or other. The trouble is, in order to make the whole thing run smoothly, he has to first get past a series of gangland ne’er-do-wells, including underworld uberlord Bruno (Brian “It’s a puppet” Conley), gun-totin’ redneck Elmo (Fred “bloke from ‘Tremors’ who isn’t Kevin Bacon” Ward) and camp racing tipster Troy (Eddie “we like you better doing stand-up” Izzard).

The film will certainly succeed in holding your attention, what with all the dirty dealing and triple-crossing that’s going on. But that one strength is also it’s main weakness – it gets far too tied up in wanting to be clever, and as a result degenerates into yet another poor man’s Pulp Fiction. In fact, a better description might be to call it a serious A Fish Called Wanda.

Another massive problem is the casting, which looks excellent on paper but turns out to be hugely flawed when it actually comes to seeing the actors doing their thing. Brian Conley, try as he might, is NOT a threatening character. Neither, for that matter, is Eddie Izzard. Even John Hannah, fine actor though he is, struggles to come across as the sort of man who even a small child would find remotely frightening. All I can say is it’s a good job Christopher Biggins is in it, otherwise the entire film might have been a complete loss.

It's Got: X-Lady Famke Janssen as one of the few cast members looking at home in her role.

It Needs: Clowns throwing buckets of glitter over each other and pretending it’s water, a lion being fought by a man armed only with a small wooden chair, and some midgets.

DVD Extras Cast filmographies, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a selection of soundbites, an original trailer, deleted scenes, and an option of audio commentary from producer James Gibb and writer David Logan. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Pulp Fiction, The Long God Friday

Summary

Convoluted, poorly structured, miscast, and not really worth the bother.

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