Saturday, September 20, 2014

Terry Pratchett's Going Postal

It's extremely obscure, but it warrants a brief mention and review. "It" is a British fantasy period action comedy, (the best things in the world are hard to define, aren't they?) based on a novel by Terry Pratchett, who has written fourty-ish such novels in a loosely connected series starting in 1980--something.

Going Postal cast. Think "Dickens goes crazy and writes fantasy comedies."

The 3 hour mini-series revolves around a con man named Moist Von Lipwig (now you begin to see the comedy style this thing utilizes) who, after a very successful career as a swindler is arrested and hanged for his crimes. The end. Just kidding -- this thing is 3 hours long! Notice I didn't say he died. Hanged only to within an inch of his life (and it's that last inch that has the most significant effect) he is given a choice: reopen the local post office, or walk though a door that leads to a bottomless pit. The choice is obvious; as the postmaster, there's a chance of escape.


But as Moist (played by Richard Coyle) gets to know his two strange and quirky postmen, Groat and Stanley (Andrew Sachs and Ian Bonar) and his even stranger parole officer Mr. Pump, who is literally a clay giant called a Golem (he's played by Marnix Van Den Broeke, (Doctor Who fans, take a look at his IMDb page!) and voiced by Nicholas Farrell) and the beautiful but harsh and cold Miss Adora Belle Dearheart (Claire Foy) he begins to soften to his new life. But as soon as he begins to put effort into his new occupation the local villain, Reacher Gilt (David Suchet) and owner of the Clacks, the only other long-distance communication service, is there, determined to do anything to keep his business as the only business.

This is my "confused" face.

I often cannot fathom how some people could possibly not like something I do, especially if it's main perk is comedy. "Everyone loves comedy" I think, "so how could you possibly not like Shakespeare??" But I do understand with Going Postal. It really isn't for everyone. If you like the haphazard comic style of Stardust then you're off to a good start, but then you must also be able to look past some pretty cheap effects and general production. I do bet the book is very good, since the best of the comedy was in the witty dialogue.

Also, the acting ranges from "a bit too much" to super-duper cheesy. Most of the time the cheesiness fits -- I cannot deny that the nature and style of the story practically requires it, but it is still there. It fits most with Mr. Pump's character, whose cheesy physical appearance trumps cheesy dialogue. And with our hero and his aloof love interest, the silliness never much overshadows their charm.

How about that gold suit, though? Shiny.

Moist is like a Flynn Rider come to life, swashbuckling, smiling, and lying his way into a better life -- until he finds something actually worth caring about. And Adora's blatant sarcastic cynicism is a perfect match for him. Their scenes clashing wit together were my favorite; I would've watched three hours of just that. And in a complete turn-around from his long-time role as Hercule Poirot, David Suchet as the villain chews scenery like I've never seen before. I was very impressed -- until I decided there was just too much of it.

"Poirot has been undercover, and has he has discovered the murderer, n'est ce pas? Oui!"

I suppose the plot was a little disconnected too. At the end I felt as if something important had been left out. Actually, thinking on it, I can kind of tell -- it doesn't wrap up exactly the way the silly, quirky style would seem to require. So it left a little wanting -- but still a lot given. When there's a fun start that slowly turns into a slightly muddled ending, it's the first part that holds the most sway with me.

Here's something you should watch though, even if you haven't seen Going Postal, and even if you don't plan on it -- some of the actors goofing off with a choreographed dance to Elvis' Return to Sender -- because, why-in-the-world-not?


  1. I love Terry Pratchett's books -- I had no idea there was ever a movie made of his books! Wowie!

    1. Yeah -- this is the third adaptation from his books actually! I'm thinking I should probably read the books, they seem like fun. :D