Viggo Mortensen in Hidalgo, Billy Boyd in Master And Commander, Elijah Wood in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind... Yes, there is life after The Lord Of The Rings. But stripped of the false feet, pointy ears and whopping great swords - not to mention the sort of spectacle that only a $300-million budget can bring -" do the stars of Peter Jacksonâs magnum opus have what it takes to open a movie by themselves?
Until now, Orlando Bloom's trajectory would seem to say yes: Pirates Of The Caribbean was a wisely chosen stepping stone, granting him the crutch of a bloody great sword after losing his bow and arrow, while the gargantuan likes of Troy, Kingdom Of Heaven and Pirates 2 are all to come. But this is the tester -" a lo-fi Brit-com shot in shabby south London. Begging the question, will Legolas' drooling fanbase accept their arrow-slinging, Mumakil-toppling hero as 'Lambeth Jimmy', the capital's leading distributor of dairy products?
Truth be told, they'd be better off cancelling this delivery and placing an order for the Return Of The King DVD. Orlando doesn't exactly set the screen alight as the humble loser whose calcium-enriched bones make him Blightyâs unlikeliest pugilist. Short of filming in a rainstorm, writer/director Alex De Rakoff would be hard-pressed to find a bigger drip. Kudos to Bloom for playing along, maybe -" it takes guts to crumple the poster-boy image and cheerfully embrace a gormless Everyman who's crap with the laydees -" but he shouldn't be outshone by his co-stars. This kind of diffidence is enough to give an Uruk-hai fresh hope.
To be fair, the supporting players do have all the best lines. Omid Djalili is a riot as boxing promoter Herbie Bush, hilariously hyping his 'Melee On The Telly' with a mixture of boy bands, dolly birds (including a vapid Billie Piper) and jingoistic rhetoric. Rafe 'Son of Timothy' Spall, meanwhile, slobs it out impressively as Jimmyâs friend-cum-motivator ("Don't be a mug, fight like a thug!") and TV impressionist Ronni Ancona makes the most of her few scenes as Orlando's slutty mum.
The biggest drawback, though, is the overworked mockumentary format, the fly-on-the-wall device now feeling like it needs a good swat after being milked more effectively in People Like Us, The Office and the works of Christopher Guest. What's more, De Rakoff conveniently ignores the gimmick when it suits him, reverting to straightforward set-ups for a tearful reunion between Jimmy and his jailbird father or a climactic, fist-flailing showdown.
Oh, and the less said about Frank Bruno and Chris Eubank's cameos the better. Know what I mean, 'Arry?
Orlando's first solo outing has rubber legs. Okay for a couple of rounds, perhaps, but it never comes close to delivering the knockout punch.