Southern Softies (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/11/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Watchable mockumentary with a few inspired moments, but the joke wears thin pretty quickly and there's not really enough here to warrant a full-length feature.

What's it all about?
A sequel to the spoof documentary It's Nice Up North, Southern Softies is directed by Graham Fellows and follows his alter-ego, John Shuttleworth (“Sheffield's most versatile singer/organist”) as he travels around the Channel Islands asking people if Southerners are soft. Initially accompanied by his neighbour and agent Ken Worthington (another Shuttleworth creation, who never appears on camera), John eventually winds up with a sound man (Tim Humphries) and a leather-clad, roller-skating camera operator called Faye when Ken goes AWOL and decides he'd rather chase women instead.

However, almost everyone John asks about the softness of Southerners seems baffled by the question and John himself quickly becomes bored with the whole idea. Besides which, he has more important things to worry about and with the film stock and budget rapidly dwindling, he comes up with a novel idea to continue filming.

The Good
Criticising the incompetence of the filmmaking is missing the point, as Shuttleworth's constant narration makes clear; this leads to some subtly clever jokes, such as when Shuttleworth invites us to admire an empty stretch of country road in which his car doesn't appear as planned because the walkie-talkie batteries ran out. In addition, the film-saving sponsorship scheme (in which they blag freebies from a series of local businesses by promising them a free plug in the film) is inspired and makes for a good running joke and there are also a handful of good lines, such as, “Let's not part on bad terms – have a Werther's Original.”

The Bad
Unfortunately, the rest of the film is sadly lacking in ideas and the joke wears thin very quickly – it's possible that even Shuttleworth's biggest fans will be annoyed by his constant expressions of “Oof!” by the end of the film. It's also a shame the film doesn't include more of Shuttleworth's songs, though a disastrous gig scene is mildly amusing.

Worth seeing?
Southern Softies is never less than watchable, but it's extremely patchy and it often feels like a five minute sketch stretched to feature length. Shuttleworth fans can probably go ahead and add an extra star, but the film's unlikely to win over any newcomers.

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Content updated: 24/10/2017 12:14

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