Colin Combes (Scott Brindle), 42-year-old gardening journalist, is staring down the barrel of a locked and loaded mid-life crisis. He’s starting to suspect his wife, Freya (Angelique Fronike) still has feelings for her ex, the aging pop star Gordon ‘Midge’ Midgely (Rob Marsden) and as if that wasn’t enough, he’s due for a colonoscopy to confirm whether or not he has bowel cancer. Tackling his twin fears, Colin vows that, if he gets the all-clear, he will perform with his rock group at Freya’s upcoming 40th birthday as a surprise. The only problem is, he doesn’t actually have a band.
Directed by Sean Baker and written by John Holdsworth, “Any Major Dude” is a musical situation dramedy that belies its micro budget origins to deliver a warm and witty slice of life in and around Cambridge, where the movie was filmed. Totalling a mere £5,000 in production costs, this is a movie which wears its frugality on its sleeve. Bolstered by a sense of community, which infuses through to the finished film, the production was completed over two years, using a cast and crew of volunteers giving their time up for free but if you’re expecting some awkward Am-Dram shenanigans then you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
There’s something comfortingly familiar about the everyday comedy and drama of “Any Major Dude”, there’s an element of “Cold Feet” in its focus on the ups and downs of relationships but just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it throws in a comedy curveball, such as the world’s most eccentric proctologist or a wonderfully surreal sequence in the local music shop. The comic asides may be hit or miss depending on taste but most of them hit the mark, especially a running gag about the misinterpreted attempts to recruit a new neighbour to join the band.
For a volunteer cast, the performances are pretty good and special praise is needed for lead Scott Brindle, who anchors the entire picture with an everyman likability and a kind of put-upon, rumpled nobility as the antics of his friends and neighbours unfold around him that put me in mind of Simon Farnaby of “Horrible Histories” fame. Given its limitations, the film can’t really offer you spectacle so instead it offers you characters, which is provides in abundance. Underpinning everything is a great score, with original songs and music by John Holdsworth with Ben Tomalin.
It’s hard out there for a self-financed micro-budget Indie and there are at least a dozen TV ‘sitcoms’ which don’t provide anywhere near this level of wit and authenticity and yet receive series commission after series commission so if you want to watch “Any Major Dude”, you can keep an eye out for an OurScreen screening at http://ourscreen.com/film/any-major-dude or you can order the DVD from http://www.anymajordude.co.uk.