Bob and Terry's Midlife Crisis
Childhood friends Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes - Billy Liar) and Terry Collier (James Bolam - A Kind of Loving) are forced to confront that things are changing when the homes they grew up in are demolished to make way for soulless high rises and the pub they still frequent is going to be pulled down. Whilst Terry takes it in his stride, moving to one of those soulless high rises, Bob finds himself going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, especially when he discovers Terry has a young Finnish girlfriend called Christina (Mary Tamm). With Terry a changed man, Bob's wife, Thelma (Brigit Forsyth), suggests they all go on a caravan holiday together.
It is amusing to think that I have never watched a single episode of "The Likely Lads" or its follow up "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?" yet because of the way British culture was during the 70s and 80s, when I was growing up, I am still incredibly familiar with the characters of Bob and Terry. But basically being aware of "The Likely Lads" puts me in an interesting position when it comes to the 1976 spin-off movie "The Likely Lads" as I have nothing to compare it to and in truth wasn't even sure whether it would work with just my basic knowledge of Rodney Bewes and James Bolam as Bob and Terry.
So the good news is that right from the word go, with an opening scene set during WWII with friends Bob and Terry being conceived, "The Likely Lads" makes you smile. That is followed by one joke after another be it a football stuck high up on a roof with Bob having to climb up to get it to Terry and Bob skiving off work to attend a funeral, well the pulling down of their favourite pub. Whilst I am sure there are some jokes which work better for those who use to watch the TV series the majority of the humour works for everyone with the added nostalgic comedy of this being a product of 70s Britain with lots of little things making you smile, from cars to jokes about caravanning.
But in truth the reason why "The Likely Lads" works is as much to do with the writing as it is the way Rodney Bewes and James Bolam interacted in character. The chalk n cheese characters combined with the timing of the responses makes it a lot of fun with both Mary Tamm and Brigit Forsyth delivering their fare share of laughs, especially Brigit Forsyth who has a cracker of a line when Terry relieves himself against the side of the caravan in the midst of a game of Bridge.
What this all boils down to is that "The Likely Lads" put a huge smile on my face and even though I have never watched any of the old TV series it still made me laugh. But what "The Likely Lads" sadly does is to remind you how weak British comedies are these days compared to how good they once were.