“Patrick”, a featherweight new British comedy from the director of “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” is so smug that it might as well be subtitled ‘First World Problems: The Movie’. It’s a mercy, then, that it’s so utterly oblivious to its own sense of self-satisfied privilege and so very, very bland that it’s hard to summon up any kind of ire against it. In fact, it’s hard to summon up any kind of reaction at all to this sleepwalking rom-bomb.
Sarah Francis (Beattie Edmondson, daughter of Adrian Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders, proving it’s not just who you know but womb you know) is a young woman whose life is a bit of a mess. Or so we’re expected to believe, despite the fact that she is a newly qualified teacher who can somehow afford to rent (on her own) a plush flat in a converted town house in the leafy London suburb of Richmond. Her awful, dysfunctional family do little but dismiss and ridicule her worries and tut and roll their eyes at her ‘antics’ but her recently deceased grandmother decides that she’s the perfect person to look after her pampered, badly trained Pug despite never having discussed this with her before her passing.
As befits her own pedigree, Beattie Edmondson makes for a likeable heroine at least but she can’t do much with the store-brand knock off Bridget Jones character she’s been written. She’s not helped by a script which is so full of tired, tedious clichés that even the director of “Blackadder II” and “Blackadder The Third” can’t breathe life into it. The film scoops up a bargain basement assortment of British thesps, mainly the ones who were left on the shelf by the Harry Potter series but doesn’t really have anything for them to do apart from shuffle awkwardly into the frame to tick their cameo box. Ed Skrein, an actor who famously received the best reviews of his career for not playing a role, does nothing to change that here, playing a would-be love interest, a wholesomely neutered Daniel Cleaver opposite Tom Bennett’s knock-off D’Arcy-lite.
Filled with so little ambition it would struggle to be a TV special of a middle-of-the-road TV sitcom, it struggles to generate any pathos or comedy despite throwing half-a-dozen after school special issues at the screen in the hope something sticks. Unpleasantly snobbish (it has a toxically jaundiced view of state school pupils), blithely privileged and devoid of any kind of message whatsoever save, perhaps, that chocolate is (amusingly) poisonous to dogs (leaving them in cars is a-okay, though, apparently), the only thing “Patrick” has going for it is that, of the two dog-based family comedies 2018 has given us, at least this one doesn’t inadvertently appear to groom children for abuse.