For some reason, comedian Ben Miller – better known as half of the double act Armstrong and Miller – has decided to try his hand at filmmaking. Nominated for this year’s Michael Powell award, Huge tells the story of two aspiring comics known simply as Warren and Clark (Johnny Harris and Noel Clarke respectively). Obsessed with Morecambe and Wise, the two cross paths at an open mic night when an inebriated Clark heckles Warren: “Go on, tell us a joke!” The crowd reacts to the pair’s on-stage chemistry and an unlikely double act is formed. Huge follows their subsequent attempts to break into the cliquey upper echelons of comedy and become the next big thing.
Adapted from Miller’s play which he co-authored with Simon Godley and Jez Butterworth and premiered at the Fringe in 1993, the film has been a long time coming. With cameo performances from just about every comedian in the country, the viewer certainly shares the protagonists’ feeling of being stuck on the outside looking in. Although the acting is of a generally good quality throughout, it is Thandie Newton who steals the show, excellent in her five minute role as a ruthless American agent.
I really wanted to like this film and Miller does well in his first attempt at directing. The problem – as is the case in so many films about comedians – is that the jokes just aren’t that funny, even the ones that are clearly meant to be. I barely laughed once in the whole 80 minutes. Perhaps I have missed the point, and if I have, I will gladly eat my words, but I felt let down by this film and didn’t walk out of the cinema with a big smile on my face as I had expected. The moral of Huge seems to be that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that you will eventually end up in a chicken suit. Happiness, on the other hand, is a dingy pub with a toilet as a dressing room and a big bald guy called Warren.