Blackadder Back & Forth

dir Paul Weiland
scr Richard Curtis, Ben Elton
with Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny, Colin Firth, Rik Mayall, Kate Moss
NMEC 99/UK 3 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
The new millennium collides with Blackadder and Baldrick in their first big-screen adventure, Blackadder Back & Forth, a silly and very funny ravishing of English history from dinosaur days to the present. Curtis and Elton keep a clever edge to their script, despite its frequent forays into vulgarity, as our fearless, clueless duo revisit key events and characters from the past. Naturally it's all a scam, as Blackadder (Atkinson) gathers his friends together for a New Millennium Eve party and wagers that he can collect any item from history with his new time machine, built by sidekick Baldrick (Robinson) from Leonardo Da Vinci's sketchbook. Surprisingly the thing works, and as they try to find their way home they have history-changing encounters with the likes of Queen Elizabeth I (Richardson), William Shakespeare (Firth), Wellington (Fry), Robin Hood (Mayall) and Maid Marian (Moss).

The script is jammed with clever jokes--thoroughly British, I should add--that keep the audience laughing for the film's 40-minute running time. And the cast is great fun. Each actor plays multiple characters (something about their DNA trail through the years); they savour each verbal and visual joke ... and make the most of them. Atkinson is particularly good--this is a much more watchable character than Mr Bean! Like the Blackadder TV series, the humour has an insider quality that leaves you slightly alienated, even as you chuckle. And it also has a tendency to seek out the smuttiest possible innuendo instead of finding something a bit more sophisticated. But it is still very smart, sharp and full of wicked running gags that keep us giggling helplessly.

[PG--innuendo, vulgarity] 21.Dec.99
UK release 1.Jan.00 - showing only at London's Millennium Dome in 2000

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"Most people already guessed it would be funny before they even went into the Millennium Dome's huge Skyscape cinema if it was anything like the last four series. How true could they have all been; it must be at least in the top two funniest films I have ever seen. It is a true British film and you don't see many of them now. The script is jammed packed with jokes for all ages, even my little 6 year old sister was laughing nearly all the way through. I think this film ties up all of the series nicely as Blackadder (Atkinson) revists most of the eras he was alive in in the series, but I was slightly disapointed that Blackadder and his trusty side kick Baldrick (Robinson) didn't vist WW1 in their time machine. Blackadder's attitude remains the same as it was during the TV series - rather sarcastic and cocky, but that is what adds most of the humour to it. I was glad to see at the end that Blackadder finally makes something out of himself after not getting much luck in the TV series. I am trying not to give much about the film away. There is also a book on sale at the Dome and this is a must-get as much as the film is a must-see. If you don't see this on your vist to the Dome you should feel very ashamed. A definite ***** (5 stars)" --Ben Martin, Dorset UK.

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1999 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall