Carry on Killing

Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg in Burke and Hare (2010)

In the city of Edinburgh rival surgeons, the old school Dr Monroe (Tim Curry) and the more forward thinking Dr Knox (Tom Wilkinson), vie for the recently dead from the hangman's noose. But Dr. Monroe has an order passed which leaves Dr. Knox with just maggot riddled corpses dug up from graves which is now getting harder to obtain due to Captain Tam McLintoch's (Ronnie Corbett) militia who patrol the city's graveyards. When William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis), a couple of wheeler dealers from Ireland, find themselves with a body to dispose of they are pointed in the direction of Dr. Knox who offers to reward them handsomely if they can bring him more fresh bodies.

Both Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis have featured in some memorably enjoyable movies but it isn't a case that all they touch turns to gold. Take "Burke and Hare" which is directed by none other than John Landis; this movie looks like it should be a lot of fun, a riot of comedy but in the end it just doesn't quite work and you despite being an okay movie you end up feeling disappointed because it wasn't as good as it should be even feeling like it could have worked as a Carry on movie.

Isla Fisher in Burke and Hare (2010)

So what went wrong? Well making Burke and Hare a couple of Irish rogues who chance their hand like a couple of Del Boy characters is surprisingly not that entertaining. Nor is a subplot surrounding Burke's girlfriend Ginny wanting to put on the first all female production of Macbeth with her prostitute friends. And the trouble is that the dialogue doesn't really deliver the laughs either and you find yourself constantly waiting for something funny to be said but it never comes.

But "Burke and Hare" is not without its laughs and the visual humour is where it works best from old jokes like a woman walking in to see Hare examining Burke's backside after he has been hit with buck shot to more macabre scenes such as an elaborate one involving Dr. Knox trying to map out the inner workings of the body. That is another strong point as the comically graphic nature of the movie provides plenty of comical shocks. On the subject of the comical shocks I am going to say the broad accents are intentionally over the top to be more comical rather than realistic with plenty of familiar faces such as Bill Bailey and Paul Whitehouse showing up in small parts. There are even small parts for other movie makers like Michael Winner and Ray Harryhausen.

What this all boils down to is that if you turned the volume down and just watched "Burke and Hare" it might work as it is the visual gags which make the movie. Unfortunately the dialogue and the actual story end up letting it down and so despite a very impressive cast it ends up ordinary.

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