Monday, 19 March 2012

Bringing Sexy Back: I Am... Stevie Simmons

I Am... Stevie Simmons (2012)

Dir. Jamie Stewart
Starring; Jamie Stewart, Angie Kay, Chris Stephen, Alan Smith, Kim Jardine, Ian Stobbie

The latest film from Double Offensive Comedy Films, I Am... Stevie Simmons, revisits the loveable central character of the group's earlier The Life And Times Of... Stevie Simmons with a more focussed approach.

With a deadline looming and no work done, a group of film students approach a hapless passer-by (Stevie Simmons, played by Jamie Stewart) and ask to film his life, unaware that it will have far-reaching consequences for them all. Despite this description, I Am... Stevie Simmons avoids the many clich├ęs of the ‘mockumentary’ genre, instead focussing on the relationships between the film crew and Stevie himself, as he performs for the camera and gives occasional glimpses into his surprisingly sensitive inner self.

The comedy ned may seem like an easy target, but unlike the larger-than-life caricatures of British TV, Stevie Simmon’s chavhood is almost incidental; the comedy and pathos comes from the character’s individuality, not from his class or background. Similarly, although there is much to pity or to ridicule in Stevie’s low status and dysfunctional background, Stevie himself mostly remains an optimistic character; even when visibly upset about the relationship between his ex-girlfriend Tracey (also played by Jamie Stewart) and best friend Dougie (Alan Smith), Stevie’s response is to hide his reaction behind onion-induced tears, partly for the expected macho reasons, but also because he (mostly) sees himself as one of life’s winners and not the pathetic figure the film crew perceives him to be. From this description, I Am... Stevie Simmons may seem like a straightforward character study, but in fact the film’s narrative subtly develops, the relationship between the film crew and Stevie evolving and building to a surprising and (in some ways) uplifting climax.

In the end what makes I Am... Stevie Simmons so funny is the clever stupidity of the script and the excellent performances of the entire cast. Stevie would be funny on his own, but the contrast of his character with the scheming and troubled film crew (whose own relationships are easily as problematic as Stevie’s) make this both hilarious and strangely moving and in every way superior to Double Offensive’s previous films.

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