Burke and Hare (2010)

[One of the films of the /slash Filmfestival‘s special European evening.]

Burke and Hare is the newest film by John Landis, starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Tom Wilkinson, Isla Fisher, Jessica Hynes, Bill Bailey, Christopher Lee, Tim Curry, Hugh Bonneville, David Schofield, Pollyanna McIntosh, Stephen Merchant and probably another 500 actors worthy of mention.

Edinburgh, beginning of the 19th century: They city is very proud of its two medical faculties, headed by Doctor Monro (Tim Curry) and Doctor Knox (Tom Wilkinson) respectively. The two of them are in strong competition – and not really in a friendly way. They especially fight over the bodies they can use for dissection. When Knox runs out of supply, he has to find new means to get bodies. And that’s where William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) enter the scene: continually strapped for cash, Burke and Hare find new and, let’s say creative means of finding new corpses for Knox to work with.

Despite its topic, Burke and Hare is incredibly funny.  It does get a bit silly from time to time, but in a very endearing way and it never gets too stupid. In short, gallows humor, a great cast and a nice script [though not at all historically accurate] – what more could you ask for?

I have to say that the movie had won me over the minute Bill Bailey shows up (which is minute one) because who can resist him? And then it just goes on and on like that – every five minutes somebody else shows up you know and like and who is pretty damn awesome.

Not that Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis wouldn’t have been enough to keep me interested, or the Scottish, or the very nice nods to different things like Greyfriar’s Bobby. But there’s a special pleasure in seeing awesome people together on screen.

The movie does get a bit silly sometimes. But it’s the good kind of silly, the kind that makes you snort with laughter and that, while not engaging too much of your brain space, isn’t stupid, either and is just plain funny. John Landis has an impeccable sense for (comedic) timing and pacing and the whole movie just whisks you along. Makes you wonder why Landis hasn’t made a movie in so long (or why Burke and Hare didn’t get a release date in Austria, apart from the showing at the /slash).

Summarising: Definitely recommended.

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