Landis mis-fires badly with BURKE AND HARE.

I won’t delve deeply in to the histories of the talent involved in this production but the impressive credit list that rolls after the closing scene should have served as a calling card or sign off sheet for a new British cinema classic to finallyrlet SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ rest their weary shoulders on which they carry the comedy legacy of the 2000’s.

Suffice to say that it did no such thing.

The tone is overly expositional, at least for a 90 minute “comedy”. Bill Bailey is here cast quite well as the hangman who will eventually seal the fate of William Burke but, his actual presence in the story feels somewhat like book-ends. He arrives, complete with a somewhat convincing Scottish accent, to explain to us ( the weak minded audience) about Edinburgh in ” those days” and deftly gets rid of some pretty boring back story elements which, even in their condensed form, feel overlong and unnecessary.

When the movie starts proper, by that I mean actually divulge some tid-bits of information which may be of use to the audience, we find Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis posturing around with some form of sponge that they are selling as moss… they are simultaneously convincing and ridiculous but it works. Just. Unfortunately though, besides telling the audience that Edinburgh is poor and that you have to be a con-artist to make money ( which Bill Bailey had just done- see above paragraph) then the scene is totally pointless. One or the other would have sufficed here.

Jessica Hynes, formerly Stevenson, plays the wife of Mr Hare expertly well given the wild variances in tone throughout this mish-mash of a movie. First she is sober, then instantly drunk and then suddenly sober again. Alcoholism, it seems, works a lot like selective hearing in Scotland… Simon Pegg is, if we’re honest, forced to play a shallow man here who seems to do all of this for what he calls ” love”. Unfortunately for Pegg ( and the audience) the object of his desires, played by Isla Fisher, is pretty much just as shallow, liking Burke only for his money and sleeping with him only when she comes to realise his confession to be ” Shakespearian”.

 Confused? You weren’t the only one.

Andy Serkis is solid here but not his best ( see Gollum or King Kong) and the script feels at the most, piss poor. Where it falls down is that every argument seems to have the same emotional through line. Burke wants sex and kills people to get closer to Jinny, Hare kills people so that his wife will want to have sex with him and to get rich. Therein lays the problem; all of the characters in this poorly conceived medley of set-pieces are just totally unlikeable people…

Ronnie Corbett makes an extended cameo here, which threatens to pull an already struggling movie down into the depths of farce and stupidly. There is one scene in particular where he seems endlessly unable to drink from a cup of tea which is infuriating instead of funny as the dialogue which catches his attention is quite dull and un-revelatory in nature. His extended screen time propels this movie in to the climactic sequences which feel rushed, confusing, devoid of tension and half-hearted. Little to no tension is created by the characters and their interactions.

You may have guessed then that I don’t like BURKE AND HARE and you have guessed correctly. There are flashes of emotionality but it quickly disappears behind an endless stream of cameos, winks to in-jokes we don’t know and repeats of set-pieces from the by-gone studio movies. The result is a tonally confused picture that doesn’t deliver any suckerpunch but instead finds itself veering wildly between watch-able and farcicle nonsense.

 A dis-connecting experience for the viewer, who finds his or herself watching an image instead of taking part in a journey.

Dissapointing doesn’t cover it.