What An Earth Even Is “The Nan Movie.”

On the weekend beginning March 18th a very small corner of the UK Film discussion scene found a new easy target. This would enable critics to plug out their worst list with a film that seemed so severely out of touch that it’s hard to believe it’s even got released in 2022. This was the feature-length adaptation of Catherine Tate’s sketch character Nan. Not screened for press the avalanche of one-star reviews and questioning the film’s very existence appeared by birthright. If you dug a little bit deeper or even saw the film there was more going on here than it might seem on the surface. The final cut has been thrown out into UK cinemas with no credited director, A trailer released two weeks before a full theatrical release and a Warner Brothers logo on both trailer and film that is two years out of date. Having a Cineworld Unlimited card effectively means you can treat whatever gets released as if it was available on SVOD. As a lover of interestingly terrible films, The Nan Movie seemed like It would make for a fun thing to tear apart in a review. What did he find?
This viewer says this without hyperbole. The Nan Movie is one of the most fascinatingly awful things he can remember seeing in quite some time. Roughly half is what you might expect. Catherine Tate in heavy old-age prosthetics On a vaguely defined Road trip with her son ( Matthew Horne) It uses this as a thinly veiled excuse to make every kind of phobic joke under the sun. There is the material out there that can push buttons in a way that’s effective, subversive and interesting. Then there’s this style of comedy that uses the word gay as an insult and leaves it at that. An escaped relic of a time vortex stuck in 2005. It has somehow emerged into the post COVID cinema landscape of 2022. That said this is only half the film. What if this viewer claimed the other half of the film was an attempt at thoughtful drama with a de-prostheticsed Tate attempting to give Nan. a mostly played entirely straight origin story. The “jokes” in this section are effectively used as punctuation to the kind of thing that 5-10 years ago would have attempted to pack in all those older-skewing UK audiences in the wake of the success of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel franchise. The scene in which young Nan goes to see Citizen Kane sounds like it should be a massive meme. It is played entirely earnestly. The film was originally directed by an acclaimed UK theatre producer/director Josie Rourke While these flashback scenes may not be great they at least represent some sort of creative vision. This sort of thing seems a functional level above this sort of cheaply produced feature adaptation of a sketch character. Every time there was a jarring transition between one of these sections and a comedic set piece involving a Tupperware box full of piss this viewer became increasingly fascinated by the frankensteined theatrical edition. This was clearly at one point a project with some level of ambition. Studio salvage edits are always an interesting prospect in seeing how much the original intention comes through. Recent examples include Artemis Fowl, The Woman In The Window and Chaos Walking folks. The cut of The Nan Movie as it currently exists seems like an entirely different prospect. A salvage edit where the two competing tones and visions are at war for attention from the first minute until the last. This is not even getting onto the animated interludes. These are a clear attempt to stitch the film together and account for missing footage during the road trip sections. The filmmakers retroactively add in a plot point about Nan’s son (Mathew Horne) being an animator. Whenever there is a clear instance of absent footage stitch the Live-action sections during the road trip “animations ” are utilized. These sections look like they were drawn by a five-year-old in 10 minutes on a budget of about ) £0.50. They easily win the prize for the most baffling thing this viewer has ever seen projected on the big screen in all his years of going to the cinema. The kind of thing that enables the film to be marked as finished only on a technicality. This is the closest this viewer has ever seen to an unfinished film getting an Unbelievably wide theatrical release. It’s hard to describe just how repulsive these sequences look until there is footage available ( not at the time of writing) They look like the stuff of nightmares. Then there’s the ending with its incredibly sappy attempt to bring the two timelines together and hit the final mawkish emotional beats. These might be effective if the studio mandated final product hadn’t been so clearly mangled in the edit As the credits rolled the thought the original vision for this movie deserves some kind of director’s cut could not leave this watcher’s head. He is not saying it would have been great. Rather it seems ( from what exists in the theatrical version) like a valiant attempt to take a one-note sketch character and do something with her. That said Who knows how Warner Brothers might have reacted to the original edit. There is far more to be written about the behind the scenes story here once the full picture is known. For now, this viewer can only report on what he saw in the currently released cut. This is a fascinating prospect on its own merits.
The Nan Movie is one of the most fascinatingly terrible mainstream releases to escape its way into British cinemas. On the one hand, it’s the scathingly unfunny, decidedly out of touch disaster that every critic that posted their one-star review is determined to tell you about. On the other hand, dig a little bit deeper and you can find a picture of waring creative visions. This suggests the behind the scenes narrative is more interesting than the film itself. In no way would this viewer recommend The Nan Movie to anyone other than those interested insane terrible movies that Wind up bizarrely fascinating in terms of how the hell they ever saw the light of day. For as weird as the final cut might be The Nan Movie is the best example of this in quite some time.

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