out of five
: 84 mins
Likeable tale that’s essentially a movie version of ‘Johnny Fartpants’ from Viz – well acted, with impressive set design work, this is guaranteed to raise a smile from anyone who likes fart jokes.
Everyone likes fart jokes, right? Right? Well, if not, you’d be advised to steer clear because, as the title suggests, Thunderpants is one long fart joke. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, as there’s enough wit and invention in the screenplay to keep you interested throughout the movie’s relatively short running time. And, rest assured, there are jokes for adults too.
Newcomer Bruce Cook plays Patrick Smash, a boy born with two stomachs and the gift of fart power. Except that, as Patrick sadly laments, “I can’t control my arse”, which, understandably, leads him into all sorts of trouble at school. However, Patrick is lucky enough to have eccentric inventor Alan A. Allen (a posh-voiced Rupert Grint, better known as Ron from Harry Potter) as his best friend, and Alan kindly invents the titular pants, which, when worn, keep both noise and stench under control.
With his gift harnessed, it isn’t long before Patrick finds himself
undergoing all sorts of different adventures, from winning a manual flight contest to helping an unscrupulous tenor (Simon Callow) pretend to hit an elusive high note, to, finally, achieving his dream of becoming an astronaut when NASA snap him up as a new fuel source.
It’s easy to tell that a lot of love has gone into making this film. The sets and the overall design are impressive, with the colour green being extensively used to give the film a distinctive look that recalls the pages of children’s comics like The Beano and The Dandy.
The performances are all very good, particularly Cook, who ensures that
Patrick is a character that the audience will root for, particularly through the use of his constantly-repeated refrain that “It was the best / worst day of my life, EVER.” (By the end of the film, little children in the audience will be shouting this out along with him).
There’s also good support, not least from Grint, but also from the likes of Stephen Fry, Celia Imrie, Paul Giamatti and Ned Beatty, whose lines such as “That boy is a tool, Johnson! A tool we shall use to achieve greatness” etc, provide a welcome dose of adult humour that may escape smaller kids.
There are lots of nice touches scattered throughout, including movie
references to films such as The Right Stuff and 2001. Similarly, the scene where Patrick tests out his ‘pants of thunder’ by eating baked beans for the first time is a mini-highlight. There’s also an amusing little coda to his relationship with his older sister at the end of the film.
In short, Thunderpants is defiantly lowbrow, but nonetheless enjoyable for it. Its appeal to younger children is guaranteed, but it will also raise a smile from anyone with fond memories of Beano comics. Worth watching.