Carry on Gladiator

Sally Phillips and Doon Mackichan in Gladiatress (2004)

In 2004 Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright who all worked on TV series "Spaced" gave us "Shaun of the Dead" the funny zombie comedy. In that same year Doon Mackichan, Fiona Allen and Sally Phillips who all appeared in "Smack the Pony" gave us "Gladiatress" a spoof of "Gladiator" and "Braveheart". Unfortunately "Gladiatress" whilst an amusing idea lacks the cleverness, humour and basically sharpness of "Shaun of the Dead" which is one of the reasons it is lesser known. It is still amusing and at times feels like an attempt to bring back the "Carry on" movies but it just doesn't have the legs and long before it finishes is struggling to keep your attention.

Staring across the channel Caesar (Ronan Vibert) orders General Rhinus (David Hayman) to conquer Britain especially as he has heard that the British women fight. And the women of the small Dubboni tribe certainly are fighters amongst other things with Princess Dwyfuc (Doon Mackichan) interested in bedding men, Smirgut the Fierce (Fiona Allen) lives it large up North and Worthaboutapig (Sally Phillips) tries to keep smiling as she looks after her bees. When Dwyfuc is captured Worthaboutapig persuades Smirgut the Fierce to help her rescue their sister who is currently being wined and dined by the Romans who plan to pump her for information before attacking.

Fiona Allen as Smirgut the Fierce in Gladiatress (2004)

For about the first 20 minutes "Gladiatress" is genuinely funny and feels very much like it is trying to be a modern update on a "Carry On" movie but where we have strong women rather than dirty old men. There is plenty of sexual innuendo and general comedy which whilst a bit hit n miss does at least run relatively thick and fast as we are introduced to the situation in Britain and the various characters. But unfortunately once the story takes over which is Worthaboutapig and Smirgut the Fierce trying to rescue Dwyfuc it starts to loose its way and becomes a bit of a slog. It still has some funny moments but it seems to go off on tangents with humour which just isn't that funny and lacks the sharpness to keep you entertained.

Now I mentioned "Shaun of the Dead" earlier and one of the reasons why that movie worked was because of the camaraderie between Pegg and Frost, they spent most of the movie on screen together and it thrived on that buddy friendship. Unfortunately "Gladiatress" lacks that and far too often Doon Mackichan, Fiona Allen and Sally Phillips have separate scenes and it is only when they share scenes that it sparks into life. And that is a shame because there are some really funny scenes between Phillips and Mackichan but not enough of them.

Now as for the acting well each of these women, and to be frank "Gladiatress" is all about this trio, do a decent enough job. They all have their moments to shine with some fun scenes and as already mentioned they work well together but often the actual material is too weak and they can't make a lame joke work.

What this all boils down to is that "Gladiatress" is the sort of movie you watch and know that it could have been really good but end up disappointed because it wasn't and ended up struggling to even be average. It is a shame because there are times when it gets it spot on with some classic "Carry On" style humour but far too often it just seems to drift along lacking the sharp humour to make it work.

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