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Beyond The Pole - Review

Beyond The Pole

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

YOU could be forgiven for wanting to dismiss new British mockumentary Beyond The Pole as yet another ill-advised attempt at comedy… to milk laughs from a shallow concept. But you’d be wrong to do so.

While far from perfect, David L Williams’ movie is a frequently endearing mix of comedy, drama and green issues that deserves to be given a shot, particularly now that it’s reached DVD.

The Green Wing‘s Stephen Mangan and Rhys Thomas star as two clueless best friends who decide to attempt to become the first carbon neutral, vegetarian and organic expedition ever to attempt the North Pole. Of course, they’re totally unprepared for the rigours and challenges that come with this aim.

Hence, once they mortgage their homes and begin to head for the pole, they encounter ferocious polar bears, a rival expedition (including True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard) and their own ineptitude – all of which upset their harmony and threaten their friendship and survival in some way.

Williams’ movie may strike an uneven tone between the slapstick humour and darker elements at times, but it can’t be faulted for ambition and has a number of things in its favour.

The central pair, Mangan and Thomas, make for an amiable – and suitably spiky – double act, while there’s fun support from the likes of Skarsgard (always charismatic), Lars Arentz-Hansen and Mark Benton.

Williams’ use of location (in Greenland) also lends the film a certain authenticity and gives rise to some stunning backdrops, while underlining the green message that’s allowed to bubble underneath without ever becoming preachy.

The comedy, too, can be funny, particularly once Mangan’s central character begins to go off the rails, or tries to get one over the pair’s Swedish rivals.

Hence, as British comedies go… this one deserves to be seen and will often surprise those willing to go on its journey. Williams biggest achievement, perhaps, lies in his ability to make you care for the bumbling duo, so much so that the finale might even stay with you for some time afterwards.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: July 5, 2010