Burke and Hare (2011, John Landis)

Perfect example of a movie that works in theory, but lacks something essential. Strong performances by good comic actors (I was happily surprised by Andy Serkis), funny situations and dialogue, strong historical interest, and good energy. So why is it such an average movie? Blame Landis?

Simon “Burke” Pegg tries to buy the favor of feminist actress Isla Fisher, while Hare is content with his wife Lucky (Spaced star Jessica Hynes). The intrigue revolves around head doctors at competing medical schools – old-school Tim Curry, who gets the law on his side, and Tom Wilkinson, who resorts to hiring our heroes to provide him bodies on which to experiment (leading to the undignified death of poor Christopher Lee). Bill Bailey plays a narrating executioner and David Hayman is a gangster who wants protection money but ends up dead in the operating theater. Movie closes on a present-day shot of Burke’s skeleton, still preserved in Edinburgh – perfect ending to a historical black comedy.

I haven’t much to say, so thought I’d end by stealing a native Edinburgh perspective from Shadowplay, but damn it, they haven’t watched this one yet.

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