Where does one start with Black Ball? A film vaguely based on a true story? Another addition to the long list of Mel Smith directed comedies which do not quite work? A stab at Ealingesque class warfare? A film about bowls? A satire on the commercialism of sport? The last hurrah for Bernard Cribbins? The first hurrah for Paul Kaye and Johhny Vegas? It is all of these and somewhat less too.

What is good about the film is how the lead actors grab the material and try their hardest to wring every bit of humour they can out of it. All the characters are one dimensional, some less so (Johnny Vegas exists to just be some sort of loosely undefined mate). But Paul Kaye really, really injects tremendous energy into making his rather dislikeable “bad boy of bowls” oddly charming. Possibly something he learnt from Dennis Pennis, but though he is surrounded by much more seasoned actors, he is always the most watchable thing on screen. The sports satire is toothless, but as it is hitting a barn door does raise the odd smile. But the films insistence of squeezing every sports movie cliche dry is its own dry death. There is a possibility of some funny Kingpin style irreverence, but Smith directs clunkily and gets jobs for the boys then it is not necessary.

The two most notable aspects of the film is the lousy “classics of British music” soundtrack and the swearing. Both of these elements seemed stressed to supply the film with a Britishness that its Torquay setting gives it by default. The scene where Kaye bowls down a dining table would have been pretty good if it had not been overwhelmed by an earsplitting “Won’t be Fooled Again”. And did we need quite so many wankers and tossers in the film, it is purile schoolboy swearing to get a laugh at best, and taking the piss out of the Devonian accent at worst. Kaye walks to hopefully star another day – the rest of the film just plain stinks.