Alien Altercations for Ant & Dec
In 2006 TV presenters Ant & Dec took their first steps into movies with the sci-fi comedy "Alien Autopsy", hoping to capitalize on their popularity and launching a new avenue to their already successful careers. Based on the story of Ray Santilli & Gary Shoefield who in 1995 hit the news when they claimed to have unseen footage of an Alien autopsy performed at Roswell during the 1940's, "Alien Autopsy" should be a good movie but sadly it just doesn't work and ends up being more disappointing than exciting.
After duping his best friend Gary "Anthony McPartlin" to invest in his latest money making brainwave, wheeler dealer and video pirate Ray (Declan Donnelly) along with Gary head off to the states where top-secret footage of an Alien Autopsy performed at Roswell falls into their laps. But things go desperately wrong when having offered the unseen footage to a German drugs baron, it starts to decompose, leaving Ray and Gary no choice but to try and recreate the footage using a tailors dummy and left over bits from a friends butchers shop.
The troubles for "Alien Autopsy" start early as although the story of how Ray Santilli & Gary Shoefield managed to dupe millions of people with their faked footage of an Alien Autopsy should make for a clever and at times witty movie, it fails to achieve the amusing yet intriguing tone. Unfortunately in adapting their story in to a movie something was lost as any mystery, intrigue or slight bit of cleverness has been left on the cutting room floor with it ending up painfully boring. There are attempts to make the story a little mysterious, such as how they originally got the footage before it became damaged and certain sub plots about people wanting to buy it. But all of these fail to add to the intrigue because they are under played and end up feeling as padding.
What also doesn't help is that "Alien Autopsy" feels so unevenly paced that it never has the quickness needed to make it thrilling. There is a sort of stilted feel to it with the cast delivering dialogue in a hesitant manner as if they are waiting for a nudge to prompt them into life and the comedic elements often coming and going so haphazardly that there is no flow, especially as scenes feel as if they have been hurriedly chopped together.
It does lead me to question whether "Alien Autopsy" was meant to be a serious dramatization of the events or more of a comedy. But because it sits on the fence delivering minimal drama with few moments of either intentional or unintentional humour it never makes up its mind as to what it wants to be. A lot of what I believe is intentional humour fails to work and the only really memorable comedy comes from the inept attempts to recreate the autopsy footage. As a whole "Alien Autopsy" just doesn't work and the indecision as to what it wants to be makes it feel often quite lifeless.
But for me the real issues for "Alien Autopsy" comes from the choice of casting Ant & Dec in the lead roles. Now I like Ant & Dec as TV presenters their cheeky chappy on screen personas work very well together but when it comes to being able to carry a movie they just don't cut the mustard. Honestly, they weren't very convincing when it came to acting which is partly down to their characters not being properly defined but more because their TV personas are so big that this just ended up being Ant & Dec not Ray & Gary. It's one of just a few of the poor choices which ended up spoiling "Alien Autopsy" and I am sure that if the leads had been given to actors with more acting ability but also less TV persona then it would have worked much more convincingly than it did.
It's not all down to Ant & Dec that the acting through out the whole of "Alien Autopsy" feels slightly on the dodgy side as even with the likes of Bill Pullman and Harry Dean Stanton the performances never get much better. Plus with roles for the likes of other well known British faces such as stand up comedians Omid Djalili and Jimmy Carr it all feels very much a mish-mash of mis-matched actors and characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Alien Autopsy" is neither dramatic enough to be a drama or funny enough to be a comedy. It sits there uncomfortably in between never knowing exactly what it wants to be which is a waste of what should have been an intriguing, often clever but also funny account of the escapades of Ray Santilli & Gary Shoefield as they duped the world. It's a movie of poor choices and the most notable of these is the casting of the lovable duo Ant & Dec as it is impossible to detach yourself from their TV personas when watching this.