"Coming of age" movies: they're either one of two categories - sweet or smutty... But rarely quirky.
Much will be made about screen writer/director Richard Ayoade's film debut - the bloke of the telly in comedies such as "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" and "The IT Crowd." And quite rightly so. At no point do you think of it as tentative first step either behind or infront of the camera. It's that quietly confident. That or either you're too busy laughing to notice or care.
With the spot-on casting, we have Roberts (the mannerism's of Ayoade's Moss and the stare of Martin Freeman) as a boy who gets through life by day dreaming of a nation mourning his death during lessons, and taking to a "brief hat phase" that didn't quite work during dinner times. These are the weird, but none-the-less grounded uncertainties of a 15 year old boy and not some 20 year old man doing a "Dawson's Creek" or "One Tree Hill." And there lies the hook that reels you in - it's quirky, grounded believability has you warmed and laughing straight off the bat.
The genre's cliches are happily avoided - instead of the awkward "losing the virginity" sequence, we have the cringingly funny preparation for the night from a nervous Roberts and Paige's girlfriend reaction to it - "you're a serial killer!" There's even the under-used ploy of looking directly into the camera and at one stage, describing how the camera crew should be filming the main character with a crane shot.
The young courting couple don't solely have center stage however - the adults with their tale of possible infidelity are picture perfect. Considine as the mystic Lothario who has Hawkin's Mum-stuck-in-a-routine in his sights is somehow laughable yet lovable. And if you don't see even a smidgen of your own Mum when Hawkin's uncertainly hugs her son Roberts, then what kind of a childhood did you have then?!?
Funny in both smile and cringe fashion, it's a delight to watch with moments of sheer laugh-out-loud sequences. Just wait to you find out what "happened in the van..."
UK release date: 18/03/11