Films packed full of recognisable faces, British comedians or background characters playing character-specific roles in several unheard-of sitcoms and sketch shows are unsung heroes. Collecting them like the final, hard-to-find stickers of a Euro 2020 football album, Debbie Isitt pairs off prospective talents that have, miraculously, survived the Confetti purge. Most have, anyway. Hard cheese for Meredith MacNeil and Felicity Montagu, but they were deemed surplus to requirement once the dust had settled on this Isitt disaster. Borderline is criminally horrendous. But how? How do great performers come together to make bad art? It is difficult to make something so uniform and poor. Sometimes artistic intent can take over and at least offer some respite, some reason for the existence of a project. Not here.
“One in three marriages end in divorce,” Antoni Clarke (Jimmy Carr) says to open Confetti. How delightful. Stand-up comedians wearing their stage show outfits brushing shoulders with a handful of actors that crop up in Green Wing or Black Books. Mark Heap’s appearance does not go unnoticed. Nor does Martin Freeman, who is, in retrospect, one of the two great draws of Confetti, a film which can now say it has a character actor who gave Sherlock Holmes a decisive supporting turn and an Academy Award winner. The prestige brought to Confetti is not its own merit, but of the talent it coasts off of throughout its desperate running time.
Not everybody wants their special day ruined by a gimmick. Not everyone wants their film to include a setlist of actors who deserve better than the whimsically poor material. If anything, the lack of promise shown in the montage shots of marriages lacking innovation for their ideas replicates that of the writing room. Soon the viewing turns into a stand-off of “I know them from X” and “weren’t they in Y?”. It always helps to have someone else watching as you ask those questions, a luxury not possible in these living requirements since nobody, ever, has asked to watch Confetti. Rightly so. It is a drab and uncoordinated affair that hopes to rely on the famous faces of the time, nothing more. It does rely on them, too heavily. It crushes great actors and solid comedians and turns them into a fine powder of unrecognisable nothing.
For some, that is a blessing, since their material is saying expletives and looking a bit pompous (Carr) or dependent on sex gags and nothing more (almost everyone else). Stephen Mangan probably has the best run of it all given he plays a health and tennis freak and does so with such dismay for either himself or the role. The nods to the camera about the potential affair between the pair of them are terribly explored, but not as bad as the naturist pairing of Olivia Colman and Robert Webb. Watching the Peep Show pair, very obviously uncomfortable at the situation they find themselves in, shivering away in the nude is not comedic. It’s just a bit odd. This is not a case of “not getting” the humour of Isitt, it’s just a matter of trying to find any of it intact, and failing to do so.