When it came out, Its All Gone Pete Tong got very middling reviews. A half arsed stab at a dance music Spinal Tap, six years too late and about a Ibizan scene that had almost died. A comedy with a serious plot, which then undermines both the comedy and the serious plot. And Paul Kaye doing his ugly gurning thing for the second time in a major British movie seemed unwelcome.
All of these are a bit true, but the error comes in thinking of Its All Gone Pete Tong as a parodic comedy. Yes there are moments which work like that, but this film is actually a quite serious, uplifting disability film. Kaye plays Frankie Wilde, legendary Ibizan DJ cum record producer who finds himself going deaf. There are of course some comic spins on this, but quite quickly the film settles on a fall and rise scenario. He goes deaf, he goes mad on drugs, he gets clean and he gets redemption. The manner of his redemption is via a lip reading teacher, who he then romances and discovers that he can make music just by hearing the vibrations. It a lot of ways it is a latter day Beethoven story but with more drugs and whiskey. And, with perhaps the caveat that the disabled characters are being played by hearing actors, makes a pretty good stab at making it clear that disability need not be a barrier to much of modern life (indeed its best jokes are at the hands of people discriminating).
BUT. Who knew? Okay, Inside I’m Dancing , which had a similar message, was seen from the outside as a mawkish piece of sentiment. That is not the case here, where Wilde’s redemption comes plainly from a ditching of drugs (though clearly not alcohol). Indeed the film is keen on showing a wild and rapacious lifestyle for the deaf characters. But perhaps its most critical audience, people who are deaf, may well be put off by the films very theme – dance music. And the fact that all the marketing (for honest stealth reasons perhaps) is clearly aimed at us thinking this is a silly and out of date comedy.