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In all its good-natured silliness and gag-filled sprightliness, Eaten By Lions from director Jason Wingard is this week’s unexpected treat: a really happy multicultural comedy that, for me, revived the spirit of Ayub Khan-Din’s East Is East from 1999.
It’s the story of Omar (Antonio Aakeel) a teenage boy of south Asian background who has been living with his gran and his half-brother Pete (Jack Carroll) ever since their mum and dad – technically Pete’s dad – died in a bizarre accident: the couple’s hot-air balloon crashed in a safari park, causing them to suffer the terrible fate obliquely hinted at in the title.
When their gran goes to her reward, the boys are initially threatened with having to stay with their racist, Dursleyesque aunt and uncle, played by Vicki Pepperdine and Kevin Eldon. But then Omar and Pete go on an emotional journey to find Omar’s biological dad, a quest that takes them to the bright lights of Blackpool, lovingly shot by cinematographer Matt North. And it is there that they chance on the dodgy B&B owner Ray (Johnny Vegas), his niece Amy (Sarah Hoare) and a well-off local clan of Pakistani heritage: the patriarch Saftar (Darshan Jariwala), sons Malik (Nitin Ganatra) and no-good Irfan (Asim Chaudry), and enigmatic younger sister Parveen (Natalie Davies).
The script, by Wingard and David Isaac, belts along – cheekily referencing a visual routine from Woody Allen’s Love and Death. Carroll is terrific as Pete, the kid with CP, a deadpan sense of humour and a tendency to shoplift. And, as ever, Chaudhry comes close to stealing the whole movie with his outrageously jack-the-laddish persona: the unreliable and horribly infantilised entrepreneur who runs a tacky shop on the seafront and makes Omar and Pete a present of his imported “Rulex” watches. A thoroughly likable feelgood film.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Eaten By Lions review – seedy seaside comedy treat | Comedy films