Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary. Making of
documentary. Churchill mockumentary. Deleted scenes. Photo gallery.
Alternative beginning. Theatrical trailer. TV spots.
IT'S difficult to imagine a more wretched viewing experience
than Churchill: The Hollywood Years, given the whole misguided
concept from start to finish.
Devised as a spoof on 'the American way of rewriting and re-devising
history', following films such as U-571 and Pearl Harbor, the
film attempts to 're-imagine' what might happen if Winston Churchill
turned out to be an American, and won the Second World War almost
But instead of being a sharp and incisive dig at Hollywood, the
film becomes a painfully embarrassing series of unfunny set pieces
that pretty much squanders the talents of just about everyone
The film picks up as American GI, Churchill (Christian Slater),
returns to London from fighting on the shores of Europe, to try
and drum up support for the war against the Third Reich.
What he finds instead is a Britain populated by baffoons, such
as King George (Harry Enfield), who has no time to consider the
foibles of war, and his devious servant, Lord W'ruff (Leslie Phillips),
who would far rather strike a deal with Hitler (Anthony Sher)
to form an alliance with the Nazis. Only Princess Elizabeth (Neve
Campbell) has the instinct for battle, teaming up with Churchill
and Eisenhower (Chris Jarman) to do what she can to help the war
Hence, while Churchill and co run
about shooting the Germans on the one hand, Lord W'ruff and party
are smuggling Hitler and his cronies into Buckingham Palace via
the backdoor, in a ludicrous bid at changing history.
Written and directed by Peter Richardson, Churchill: The Hollywood
Years is clearly intended to be as influential a comedy as his
Comic Strip work (such as The Strike) in the late 80s, thanks
to the impressive cast, which includes a veritable who's who of
British comedy (Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Rik Mayall, Mackenzie
Instead, it probably rates as one of the worst movies of the
year which borders on being offensive. Nothing about it works
- not even the decision to cut out the film within a film format
and reduce it by about 20 minutes.
The jokes make TV's 'Allo 'Allo seem like a masterpiece of comic
timing, while the acting is so hammy (probably deliberately) as
to be diverting, with the majority of the central performers making
complete fools of themselves in the process.
Had it stuck with being a send-up of the Hollywood penchant for
altering history to suit its own ends, the film might at least
have had something relevant to say, but its decision to play it
like a 'what if' scenario merely renders it incomprehensible and
pointless, and as bad, if not worse, than many of the blockbusters
it's supposed to be mocking.
For instance, irony is supposed to be derived from the fact that
a Jewish actor is playing Hitler, while comedy is supposed to
be gleaned from a hip-hop song proclaiming that 'Hitler has only
got one ball'.
In real life, Churchill made his two-fingered V for victory salute
something of an iconic image, yet the only two-fingered salute
audiences will want to give this film is something that means
quite the opposite. It deserves to sink without trace at the box