PAUL DOOD'S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK takes us on a wild ride
PAUL DOOD'S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK (SXSW 2021)
Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunchbreak takes us on a wild ride as unlucky loser Paul has one setback after another, finally vowing to take his full revenge during one epic lunchbreak – all whilst streaming live to the world.
Directed by Nick Gillespie, this is his second feature, but his long history in the UK film and TV industry are on clear display in this smoothly crafted film. Happily blending a mixture of tones and switching from parody to social commentary to poignant moments of grief, then back to outrageous blood splattering scenes a la Shaun of the Dead, he pushes the film through with a confident stride allowing his wild and wacky characters to be at the film’s forefront.
Paul is going to be a star. Still living at home with mum, working in a lacklustre charity shop, he doesn’t have much going for him, but with encouragement of his ailing mother he’s about to audition for a huge talent show (think Britain’s Got Talent). When a series of mishaps and inconveniences lead to him missing the audition and tragedy strikes, Paul is left broken and bereft. Thinking about the cruelties thrown on him by a number of selfish people throughout that day, he vows to enact his revenge on each and every one of them.
It’s a bonkers but brilliant plot that works really well. It drops off in pacing a little in the third act but still comes to a satisfying conclusion, and despite its utterly wacky plot choices, parts of it almost feel believable.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
For a British audience, this is a perfect cast; it’s a smorgasbord of who’s who from this and that show. Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, and Johnny Vegas all appear in various roles that fit them perfectly, and in this film, there really are no small parts.
It does however only belong to one person, and his name is in the title. Tom Meeten plays Paul with ease, managing to make him seem both pathetic and completely lovable. Just as Paul charms his streaming audience throughout the film’s events, Meeten endears himself to the audience throughout the film becoming an unlucky but lovable lad who just wanted to make his mum proud. The chemistry between Meeten and June Watson who plays mum Julie is the heart of the film and leads to some lovely moments, as does his crush on Parkinson’s Clemmie, the shopping centre cleaner.
The dialogue is goofy and fun, similar in tone again to works like Shaun of the Dead and plenty of British comedy works. Stick around for the closing titles at the end to see what becomes of the characters; it has some giggles.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Managing to capture the depressing charm of a small town in Britain and the bleakness of shopping centres and charity shops, the design is wonderful – especially costuming. Described by the in-film police as Ziggy Stardust, Paul’s costumes are fabulously silly and glitzy – exactly what you’d expect in real life. What you really need to be watching for however is the body injury work. There’s wonderful use of prosthetics to create some gruesome deaths, as they went all out on some of these and it’s brilliant.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Such a retro playlist with a whole mixture of tunes, the music is dated perfectly leaning into the idea that for Paul, life just never really started. Still living in the past, we get a whole bunch of 80s synth hits, and they’re impossible not to sway to.
It’s no ground-breaking film, but Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunchbreak is a proper laugh. It’s somehow charming whilst being a bizarre farce with completely ludicrous characters and plot twists. I couldn’t help but find myself cheering Paul on and grinning ear to ear by the end.