I’ll Be There

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Movie Review by Reece De Ville

Starring: Craig Ferguson, Charlotte Church, Jemma Redgrave, Joss Ackland, Ralph Brown
Director: Craig Ferguson

GLITTER, COOL AS ICE, SPICE GIRLS – THE MOVIE. These magical pieces of cinema history have enthralled us with their daring plot lines, emotive performances and nerve jangling climaxes. Vanity projects you say? Convenient vehicles for selling albums and merchandise?? How dare you!

Oh, ok then. You’re right. Movies based around the jaunty adventures of a popular singer/band are more often than not damn awful (with the exception of A HARD DAYS NIGHT – even Ringo’s ‘acting’ couldn’t damage the untouchable Beatles), which brings me to the ‘Adventures of Charlotte Church’…sorry, I’LL BE THERE. Here, the flimsiest of plots involving a faded rock star Paul Kerr (Craig Ferguson), a former groupie Rebecca (Jemma Redgrave) and their lovechild Olivia (Charlotte Church) combine to form one of the laziest films so far this year.

Kerr lives his life in a blissful haze until faced with the responsibility of Olivia, a child he never knew he had. Amazingly, Olivia has a hidden singing talent (cue song after dreadful song), which her mother, Rebecca, refuses to acknowledge, but with which you can bet she’ll put the world to rights. Padding out the cast are such stalwarts as Ralph Brown as an Australian band mate of Kerr’s with Joss Ackland enjoying himself as Olivia’s rockabilly grandfather – both offering delightful turns. Ferguson (directing and writing) is good value too, but he’s unable to divert attention away from the car crash performances of Redgrave and Church – which ultimately brings I’LL BE THERE to its knees. Redgrave is wooden and cold with a welsh accent starting off in the valleys, passing through Middlesex, stopping off for a snack in London and heading back to Cardiff in time for the, *sniff*, tear jerking finale. Church, meanwhile, has a brave stab at acting, but just fades to grey when sharing screen time with Brown, Ferguson or Ackland.

The main problem with Ferguson’s debut as a director is that the script just isn’t strong enough to carry it above mediocrity with the constant nagging feeling of this being an extended Church pop video. The supporting cast are obviously written to be portrayed in a ‘quirky, lovable’ vein, but are never quirky enough to register as amusing, whilst the character of Paul Kerr seems to have fallen straight out of an early 90’s sitcom. (Drunken rock star? Check. Leopard skin print pants? Check. Motorbike and country mansion? Check).

I’LL BE THERE isn’t quite the vanity project it could have been, and neither is it the cinematic debut Charlotte Church’s agent could have hoped for. Still, there’s always ‘rear of the year’ 2003…

2 out of 6 stars