P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang - what?
Whilst it may have a strange name which makes you wonder what it means "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" is also a nostalgic British coming of age movie set in 1948, where we follow the teenage trials and tribulations of 14 year old Alan Duckworth who has a desire to kiss Ann Lawton. It's an entertaining movie, quite clever in places with the use of a cricket commentary to establish the emotions of young Alan. But is also at times rather flat, pepped up by some amusing scenes but occasionally seems to be dragging it's feet, side tracked by sub plots. In away "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" feels like a movie which will have greater appeal to those who were running the gamete of teenage turmoil's during the 40s than those who watch it purely as a nostalgic coming of age movie.
The year is 1948 and 14 year old Alan Duckworth (John Albasiny) wants nothing more than to kiss attractive class mate Ann Lawton (Abigail Cruttenden), so much so that he pleads with God for just one kiss. But Ann barely notices Alan as she is more interest in Geoffrey (Maurice Dee). When school teacher Miss Land (Alison Steadman) decides to cast all 3 of them in the school play it seems like Alan may finally get his wish granted as the script calls on him to kiss Ann.
You have to say that coming of age movies are ten a penny but a British coming of age movie set in post war Britain is not so common. As such "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" does have something which makes it feel slightly different to those other movies that tackle a similar subject and that is the nostalgic appeal to a British audience. With a nice setting, old fashioned characters and elements of childhood fun in the 40s it certainly has a wonderful nostalgic feel about it. But at the same time I feel that nostalgia will work more for those who were teenagers during the 40s rather than for those, like me, who end up watching "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" as a period piece.
Get beyond the whole nostalgia thing and "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" is really just a coming of age movie where we watch Alan fret over kissing the attractive Ann who has no interest in him at all. It is amusing and there are some very funny scenes such as Alan daily prayers, pleading for it to be today and that he won't think about the other things. Plus there is the wonderful cricket style commentary which accompanies the movie, amusingly embellishing on what is going on. But it is also at times a little bit dull, seeming to drag its feet with subplots which don't seem to add a great deal to the storyline. The whole subplot about teacher Miss Land and handyman Tommy whilst amusing seems to clutter things up, implemented to make "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" a more reasonable length which at 80 minutes is not that long.
Considering that John Albasiny, who plays Alan Duckworth, had no movie experience prior to "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" it has to be said he does a remarkably good job. He has this restrained style so he comes across as quite a normal, head in the clouds type school boy but then makes you smile with his frank dialogue, especially when he is pleading to God for it to be today. And to be honest the other young actors such as Abigail Cruttenden who plays Ann Lawton and Christopher Karallis who plays Shaz do equally good jobs, delivering the normality of a typical teen but then making you smile with some brilliant delivery of their lines. It also means that whilst "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" also features Alison Steadman and Garry Cooper it is the young actors who are the stars.
What this all boils down to is that "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" is a fun movie and an enjoyable nostalgic British coming of age movie. It is at times clever as well as amusing but it also occasionally feels dull, losing its way with sub plots. And in a way it feels like a movie which will have greater appeal to those who were teenagers in post war Britain as the whole nostalgic feel will have great resonance.
As for the big question, what does P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang mean, well it seems it means nothing, just a made up phrase, a secret code which Alan and his friends used as a form of greeting.