Alien Autopsy
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jonny Campbell
scr Will Davies
with Declan Donnelly, Ant McPartlin, Bill Pullman, Harry Dean Stanton, Omid Djalili, Morwenna Banks, Madeleine Moffat, Götz Otto, Lee Oakes, Jimmy Carr, Orson Bean, Jonathan Frakes
release UK 7.Apr.06
06/UK Warner 1h35

The truth is out there: Ant and Dec

pullman stanton carr

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Alien Autopsy Based on an astonishing true story, this film is thoroughly watchable, although the filmmakers refuse to push it into either comedy or thriller territory, leaving it sitting awkwardly somewhere in the middle of the two.

In 1995, Ray Santilli and Gary Shoefield (Donnelly and McPartlin) stumbled across an original film of the autopsy of an extra-terrestrial, filmed in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, by a military cameraman (Stanton). But after borrowing from a gangster (Otto) to buy it, they're forced to re-create the footage so they can sell it to media outlets around the world. Which they do. Now, a decade later, a filmmaker (Pullman) wants to tell their story and discover the truth.

The fact that writer Davies (Johnny English) and director Campbell (Shameless) refuse to amplify either the silliness or the adventure makes the film feel remarkably truthful. In fact, it's so plausible that we find ourselves identifying with the characters, wondering what we would do in their shoes, and hoping the film gets to the bottom of it all without spoiling the mystery (which it does very cleverly). There's a freewheeling caper vibe as Ray and Gary draft in their friends to help them--coming up with something that couldn't possibly work, then hoping they'll get away with it.

Grounded performances bring these people to life in a cheerfully relaxed way. Ant and Dec abandon their TV personas to play Gary and Ray as likeable--and believable--fast-talkers, and their journey is involving and unpredictable. The scruffy bunch around them is a bundle of British comedy stock characters--Djalili's resourceful shop owner, Banks' sassy wife, Moffat's clueless nan, Oakes' gangly geek. They keep us smiling, if not laughing, throughout the film.

The whole film is engaging and cute, and it briskly moves through the lively plot. But the approach is so gentle that it's never hugely entertaining. The story lends itself to a much more energetic approach, as well as a number of sequences that would have left us laughing hysterically and/or clinging to the edge of our seats. What's here is enjoyable, but it should've been a lot more fun.

cert 12 themes, language, some grisliness 31.Mar.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Alien Autopsy David Howard, London: 4.5/5 "There is nothing to dislike. Ant and Dec are compelling in a story with many twists and turns. It looks a little low budget but that sort of adds to the charm of the film. It's interesting when a film can work without violence, sex, drugs and Rock 'n' Roll. If you are wondering what's left, well in this case a great story that doesn't need to be propped up with special effects and cheap shots. The best scene in the film in when Dec has to present the remade alien film to the drug baron. The end is also interesting if the film is really based on true facts. The film is worth giving up a Saturday night for." (7.Apr.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall