27
Jul 04

FT Top 100 Films #54: 24 Hour Party People

Do You SeePost a comment • 964 views

There aren’t many films that slip in an advert for their own DVD during the running of the film. Even more rare is this advert coming whilst the actor playing the lead character is comparing his portrayal to the real live person his character is based on also on screen. Metatextual? Oh, certainly, but also plenty funny too.

The main problem in Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson is Alan Partridge. Not that Wilson is not in many ways a character like Partridge, with his own airs, graces and an enormous amount of self-puffery. The difference is that while Partridge is a self-obsessed nitwit, Wilson is really rather clever. Admittedly with a self deflating air which often comes a-cropper, but nevertheless one whose misdeeds extend directly out of hubris rather than (complete) idiocy. Most of Wilson’s problems stemmed from allowing the kind of intellectual freedom he would need to people who have less use for such a commodity. Perhaps Shaun Ryder is/was a genius – but he is one who perhaps should have been kept on a shorter leash.

So as a biopic of Wilson, 24HPP fails by conflating him with Partridge. As a document of two distinct strands of Mancunian music it is a little bit more successful. However as a comedy the film lumbers around trailing a surprising amount of success in its wake. Musicians are not interesting. People like Wilson are, especially when the complicity the film has in perpetuating his myth is probably only equaled by the Howard Stern movie Private Parts. The willingness to constantly take the piss out of Wilson is sanctioned by Wilson, because he knows the joke is one everyone else. The joke being that his is not the Ian Curtis Story, the New Order Story or even the Happy Mondays Story. Wilson himself is famously NOT a 24 Hour Party Person, and yet the film about him seems to suggest he might be. The film is saying that if Tony Wilson did not exist, we would have to invent him. Oh, and Alan Partridge is a nice stab, but making him like uncool music and stupid was just lazy comedy. Wilson even has a laugh at the expense of Coogan. Who’s the genius?

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