DIRECTOR: ???????

CAST: Catherine Tate, Matthew Horne, Niky Wardley, Katherine Parkinson, Ruchika Jain, Bill Murphy, Tim Laubscher, Pete Bennett, Parker Sawyers, Felix Scott, Rebecca Trehearn, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor

RUNNING TIME: 95 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: The cantankerous Nan (Tate) goes on a trip from London to Ireland with her grandson Jamie (Horne)…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Well, you knew this one was coming. Hot off the heels of Keith Lemon, Harry Hill, and even one-time Britain’s Got Talent winner Pudsey the dog getting their own movies, Catherine Tate’s popular sketch comedy character “Nan” (which largely consists of Tate, in heavy OAP make-up, spewing swears and un-PC commentary to her sensible grandson) is now the headline act of none other than The Nan Movie, which… well, it’s definitely not good.

However, before any of that, I feel it is important to address something you may have already noticed at the top of this review: a suspicious lack of a director’s credit. Up until shortly before the day of release, it had been widely reported that Josie Rourke, previously of the Oscar-nominated historical costume drama Mary Queen of Scots, was set to direct The Nan Movie (quite the step down, going from directing Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, to now directing Catherine Tate farting and wetting herself as an old lady, but there we are). Shot back in 2019 for a 2020 release, which obviously didn’t happen, nothing was reported within that time of anything to do with Rourke stepping down from the director’s chair – although she is still credited as an executive producer in the final cut – so even two years later she was always assumed to still be on board. The finished film, however, does not even have a director’s credit, instead replacing it with simply “A Catherine Tate Movie”. This suggests two likely scenarios; one is that Rourke did indeed direct a good chunk of the movie, but then somewhere along the way the producers wanted to go a completely different direction, and so Rourke distanced herself from claiming full authorship; and two, Rourke never did officially sign on as director, and it really was Tate who covertly spearheaded the entire thing from the very start, despite very little directing credits to her own name.

One scenario is probably more plausible than the other, but either way it creates a very weird Frankenstein’s Monster of a movie, stitched together using components from two movies of polar opposites: one of which is a historical romance drama, and the other is, well, The Nan Movie. Aside from being taken aback from how grossly unfunny and aggravating the finished film is, you also find yourself utterly perplexed that such a film, with its wildly inconsistent plots and editing, can be a product of either a genuinely funny comedic actress or a director who, whatever your thoughts on Mary Queen of Scots, really ought to know better by now.

All of that before I even get into what the plot (or rather, plots) of this movie is: long story short, we find Nan (Tate) and her grandson Jamie (Matthew Horne) going on a road trip together from London to Ireland, to see Nan’s estranged sister Nell (Katherine Parkinson) who is dying. That’s more or less the whole plot of the Tate version of The Nan Movie, one that is punishingly packed with extended vignettes like dropping ecstasy while out clubbing with some rugby hooligans, unwittingly assisting an animal rights activist in blowing up a chicken farm, and being pursued by a Liverpool traffic warden who really should have better things to do with her life than follow this annoying old lady about. But then, there’s also what I shall dub the Rourke version of The Nan Movie, which charts Nan’s origins as a working-class young woman during the Second World War alongside her sister Nell (needless to say, both Tate and Parkinson are free from make-up in these younger parts), who both find themselves competing for the same man, handsome American GI Walter (Parker Sawyers), which ultimately leads to their estrangement.

I really do mean it when I say that this movie is the product of two very different movies stitched together, because you have this much more modern style of filmmaking splattered all over the modern-day Nan sequences, with some ugly cinematography and absolutely atrocious editing which randomly fast-forwards on itself and makes many easy shortcuts (in place of actual stuff they clearly couldn’t film, they insert some horrific animation to fill in the gaps, which only makes those gaps seem far more apparent), and then you have these historical sequences which are far better made, with a clearer cinematic style and a genuine pace that doesn’t stop and start like it does elsewhere. It is in the latter sections where you can tell that Rourke was most likely in control, but it is edited in a way that suggests we are watching a far more watered down version of what this movie probably started out as originally, before producers demanded more of the Nan character audiences were familiar with. That was a seriously bad choice, because we now have two separate movies which, when placed together, so do not work. One minute, you’ll be starting to become genuinely invested in this love triangle between these two sisters and their handsome catch, since it is handled as though Rourke actually is going for more awards following Mary Queen of Scots, but then we’re right back with Tate’s Nan farting in her grandson’s face, and urinating in a Tupperware box found inside said grandson’s new van (which, for extra groans, has a very naughty word written on the side of it as a running joke).

The Tate version is clearly more dominant than the Rourke version, and all the worse for it; there appears to be no artistic merit behind this main strand of the film, with neither Tate nor co-writer Brett Goldstein (currently seen being much funnier on Ted Lasso) mining enough, or indeed any, laughs to justify its meaningless existence, leaving you sat there forced to endure such shoddily-made nonsense while, very occasionally, getting flashes of a far better movie which clearly has an actual director behind it. It’s as though someone in the editing room spliced scenes from the Saoirse Ronan movie Brooklyn into Keith Lemon: The Film, for no other reason other than they were just bored, and they were almost certain that such a monstrosity would never see the light of day. It’s only because there is clearly a far better-made and dramatically on point movie trapped underneath the surface that this movie avoids the full F-grade, because you can at least spot where the filmmakers had some idea of what they wanted to do here, before all those good intentions got butchered by the insertion of scenes like Tate’s Nan having explosive diarrhoea behind a bush.

It’s certainly awful, and is bound to be one of the year’s worst films, but it’s one of those terrible movies that would make for a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary, if only so we can understand once and for all what went wrong with this horrific Franken-movie that is, to hijack and slightly paraphrase the main character’s best-known catchphrase, a friggin’ liberty.

SO, TO SUM UP…

The Nan Movie is an awful movie made up of two very different movies, one of which is a terminally unfunny road trip comedy with groan-inducing sight gags and bodily fluid humour, but the other – which is where oddly-uncredited director Josie Rourke shines best – has genuine potential that is constantly hampered by the much worse movie playing alongside it.

The Nan Movie is now showing in cinemas nationwide – click here to find a screening near you!

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