Clarke’s latest is (The K)not suitable for anyone

Another week, another Noel Clarke film inexplicably released across the UK.  Yes, someone’s (surely) favourite actor/screenwriter is back with romantic (supposed) comedy The Knot, featuring the weird-looking woman from Inception and Mena Suvari, as the once promising career of the American Beauty star continues to circle the drain.  In a desperate attempt to emulate the successes of both The Hangover and Bridesmaids, The Knot somehow rips both films off without providing a single laugh along the way.

The plot follows both halves of a couple on their wedding day.  Matthew McNulty is the groom, Peter, surrounded by a handful of truly moronic lads, led by Clarke’s dope-smoking Peter.  Talulah Riley is the blushing bride, Alexandra, who prepares for the big day with her accident prone bridesmaids.  For no good reason, wedding photographers film both parties in the run up to the nuptials.  Terribly unfunny antics between Peter’s mates vie for the title of “Biggest Waste of Time” with brainless gross-out humour from the ladies’ side.  Predictable, idiotic, insulting and insipid, the chaos of Peter and Alex’s wedding day couldn’t be a more painful experience to watch.  When the wedding ring inevitably makes its way into a toilet bowl, it joins the careers of Clarke and Suvari at the very bottom of it.  The Knot ensures that only one of those three things makes its way out of the porcelain crap container.

It’s impossible to divide up the blame for The Knot being one of (if not) the year’s absolute worst films.  Every joke, gag and idea dies an immediate death before it begins to rot whilst onscreen.  Not a single actor or moment makes one minute of The Knot worth viewing.  Clarke is as unappealing as ever, but no one else is any better.  The film is a bigger disaster than Peter and Alex’s wedding day.  The characters are entirely unlikable, poorly written and the subplot of Peter’s obsessed ex-girlfriend would be a waste of time if The Knot was worth time to begin with.  Since it’s not, it serves as one more reminder of just how clueless Clarke and co-conspirators, oh sorry, co-“writers” Geoff Carino and Davie Fairbanks are about, not just comedy, but character development, as well.  The best that can be said of their screenplay is that it treats the two sexes equally in making both genders look like complete, detestable plonkers.  Technically, the film is watchable and it does appear to have a larger budget than it deserves (though to be fair, that number would be zero) so it might be easy to think The Knot has something to offer based on its slick presentation.  However, rest assured, it certainly does not.

Those who avoid Noel Clarke films as a general rule would be wise to continue following such sensible measures.  The Knot is 90 minutes of non-stop horrible, derivative “comedy” that is never once funny, even in the slightest.  With a bare-bones plot fleshed out with hackneyed material that has been done infinitely better by the films it steals from, The Knot is the must-miss comedy of 2012.  Save the date for quite literally anything (a root canal, perhaps) other than this pathetic pretender.  1/10

The Knot stinks up UK cinemas from 5 October

  • Phil Edwards

    What a review! :)

  • Jo

    Zing. Feeling the burn. Poor Tallulah Riley.

  • bitpartplayer

    Film makers have been answering back to their critics forever, including some great directors and some great critics. So have artists in every art form known to man. The idea that film reviewers get the last word every time and film makers have no business responding to comments made about them is a very new idea, coming in only when writers stopped having editors and publishers sat between them and the people they write about, and sustained by the fact that the two parties can now insult each other directly in 140 characters or less.

    Of course the language used against you was well out of order, but discussion on the internet is ridiculously coarse. A film blog described Jonah Hill as “that fat cunt” in its *headline* for a review of The Watch, since being egdy/sweary/funny is an approach tried by many. From the outside, especially from those in the firing line, it looks like that level of debate is the norm. God help us, maybe it is.

    And of course the review was personal. When I read it I assumed you meant it to be personal. Like the vast majority on online reviews, it’s solely about “you totally failed to make this into something I liked,” and never gets any deeper than that. It’s a list of failures mixed with context-free opinions about the careers of film makers. I don’t get how you can be surprised if one of the people involved in it gets upset. Describing anyone’s career as being at the bottom of the toilet boil is a nasty, hurtful thing to write, and your protestations that such talk isn’t personal are very hollow. As far as I know, Clarke and Suvari are full-time professionals in the film industry, and might be entitled to wonder how much money you make from film reviewing in order to judge your position in that profession. Fair’s fair.

    These pieces are fun to write, but justifying it with “it’s just an opinion” is weak. Apart from the obvious fact that those exact words can be used in any appalling context for anything, the real problem is why bother? Why devote 500 words to something you hated?

    They made the film, you watched it, you hated it, you said so, one of the film makers replied. That’s it. The only proper response from a reviewer to any criticism from any quarter is “Sorry you think so. Thanks for reading.” Telling them they had no business answering back to this kind of review is getting close to the New Entitlement.

    • LondonFilmFan

      I’ve been very happy to sit back and let everyone have their say about this matter, without feeling the need to chime in to defend myself. However, there are a few things I would like to say in order to set my side of this perfectly straight.

      The example noted above where Jonah Hill was described in a derogatory manner is nothing comparable to what I have written in my review. Originally, Mr Fairbanks’ complaint was that I “named” him and attacked him personally. When this was explicitly pointed out not to be the case, he revised his argument, focusing on the “personal attacks” I made on his “mates”. So let us consider these “personal attacks”. With regards to my mention of Riley as “the weird-looking woman from Inception”, that isn’t really as offensive as some people want to believe. Merriam-Webster defines “weird” as “of strange or extraordinary character”. If anyone finds that so offensive, fine, but that’s not my cross to bear. With Suvari, I think the fact alone that she is in this movie speaks for the trajectory of her film career. From American Beauty to The Knot. Just think about that. Now, I’m not saying she’s a horrible human being or that she should drop dead or anything of such a nature. Those would be true “personal attacks”. Instead, I am commenting on the state of her professional career in a review of a piece of her output. Exactly how is that personal? The same can largely be said for Clarke, although, admittedly, I did give him a bit more of a kicking. Still, I never attacked his nature as a human being. I never said anything along the lines of how his family should be ashamed of him or that he has a tiny willy or any such thing. My comments were strictly limited to his professional career. And to Mr Clarke’s credit, he pretty much took this review in stride (which isn’t an approach he has always taken), and if anyone would have had reason to be pissy, it was him.

      Now, for Mr Fairbanks to respond in the manner that he did to the above is entirely ludicrous. Given the depths the “comedy” of The Knot sinks to, I find it particularly ironic that Mr Fairbanks should become so self righteous about supposed “personal attacks”. The Knot is a film that resorts to dated, stereotypical and offensive caricatures of groups of people, specifically Black Africans and gay males. I’m not fussed about anyone responding to what I write and they are more than free to do so. I never said Fairbanks had no right to respond to me, but in calling me a “cunt” and suggesting I crawl up my “own arse and die”, he made an utter fool of himself and spoke volumes for the kind of person he is. He even went on to go through my timeline on Twitter and harass people I was exchanging tweets with. His behaviour was, quite frankly, insane. On the flip side of that, sure, it feels good to have a positive review acknowledge by cast or crew, but that’s never why I do it. Above all, I am honest in what I write. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love film and I love writing. Despite not earning a living from this, I still aim to provide my audience with something entertaining and worthwhile. After viewing The Knot and enjoying, quite literally, nothing about it, my goal was to find a way to carthartically release the frustration the film filled me with and do so in a way that might amuse and yes, deter my readers from suffering the same fate. If I felt those behind The Knot had genuine intentions of providing any true, original entertainment in exchange for the price of a ticket, I wouldn’t have been so hard on it.

      So you ask why I devote 500 words to something I hated, well, that is why. However, in asking, you clearly display a lacking of understanding what the world of criticism is about. To only write about good or great films would be dishonest. The truth of the matter is, even bad reviews are better for a film than not having anyone talking about it. So yes, I could have pretended that this film never existed and that I didn’t see it, but that would be just as dishonest. I have biases, but I also have integrity. I was willing to give this Noel Clarke film a shot, despite my biases. This time, the result matched what I expected. However, I am open-minded enough to know that this will not always be true. I am no fan of Channing Tatum, for example, and that has been evident in the majority of my reviews of his films. However, I was floored by not just how funny 21 Jump Street was, but also by how good he was in it and made no hesitation in admitting that.

      On a closing note, you equate money earned to position in this profession. The fact is, many films, big and small, financially benefit from the coverage and word-of-mouth provided by countless film journalists who get paid little to nothing for their tireless work. Speaking for myself and so many of my wonderful friends and colleagues, we do this because this is what we love doing. We get very little re-numeration for it, but that’s rarely down to skill. Many published and paid “critics” have zero background in what they are reviewing. This is, sadly, the nature of the beast. However, none of that diminishes our passion and our love for great cinema. So, I would ask to you (and the actors you mentioned, and Fairbanks himself) how long they’d follow their passion if there was no money in it. Then I’d ask why the hell they got so worked up over a review from someone with only 62 Facebook “likes” in the first place.

      • bitpartplayer

        Thanks for answering. To be clear, I never said the Jonah Hill comment was the kind of thing you wrote here, but said that to an outside observer the standards of debate among online film reviewers are much of a muchness. And I never excused the comments you received either, which were ridiculous. My point was that nasty sniping reviews are fun to write, but in the light of some of the abusive garbage that gets written all over the net, including by unpaid film reviewers, at this point anything not part of the solution might be part of the problem. We’ll have to disagree about whether the language you used here accounts for the level of worked-up on display or not.

        I do understand what you mean about film criticism (although there’s a big difference between that and reviewing, which is what we’re talking about here). But let’s not confuse the horse with the cart. Of course films appreciate the coverage and noise generated by seeding reviews on several hundred blogs and not caring too much about which way their reviews go. But like they used to say about Facebook, if you get something for free and use it for free, you are not a consumer; you are the product. The question you suggest for film makers can easily be turned round: how long do you follow your passion if you had to pay for every element of it? And what would change about the attitudes behind the writing if it did?

        All the best.

      • J_Levitt

        I watched and read as this explosive situation unravelled itself on twitter the other night and while there are some good points on both sides I think bitpartplayer is on the money and could even go further.

        The reason that a main point has been missed or ignored is that on several occasions over the spat between you and Mr. Fairbanks he had said it wasn’t so much about the review but the personal opinions you made about the actors before getting to the review. Of course I’ve worded it much more polite, but then if it was my work, friends and colleagues I may have felt as strongly.

        I haven’t seen the film so I can’t comment on the content but I did read the review and I felt that it did seem like a very personal blog. Like someone had offended you and you were projecting. Where as your other reviews don’t seem quite so harsh.

        Your response that I’m responding to I have to say is a little disappointing. The fact that you have said this is not a paid job and you’re talking about peoples work which I guess like any of us has to pay our bills. You’re telling people to avoid it and quite staunchly. Rather than write a review about the contents and allow your readers to make up their own minds. What is it that makes a critics view so much more valuable than the public, especially when you’re not paid which basically makes you a member of the public with a slightly wider reach.

        I do not agree with the words that Mr. Fairbanks used or am condoning his outburst, but I feel I do understand it. In conclusion, your response has made no attempt at backing down about anything you said which including calling someone weird, then using someone else’s abstract or alternative meaning. As your article had absolutely no positives, do you really expect anyone to believe that is how you meant it. I’m afraid that I have lost a lot of respect for you. Your justification is paving the way for you to write whatever you want about whoever you want and will do so without taking any responsibility of how its received, believing it’s your right because you love film.

        I have to say, as I’ve gone further into this response, I can feel myself getting angry about it, so I now can’t imagine responding any differently than Mr. Fairbanks and I’m not sure if I should be sorry about that or not.


      • crystal

        It seems very clear that Londonfilmfan has a personal problem with Mr Clarke as the attack starts from line one. He was determined not to like this film no matter what. I’d suggest if you dislike a person that much for whatever reason, maybe you should not review content they are in as all it does it highlight your personal feelings on the talent, makes your review invalid biased Garbage and what Mr Fairbanks calls “personal Attacks”. Only you know the truth but that’s how it seems to me.

      • J_Levitt

        LondonFilmFan Would you at least concede that there isn’t one positive in your review?

  • T O’Tooley

    Hi, I don’t know what all this slagging is about but I went to see this movie as it was my wife’s turn to choose. We left before the end and I’m still trying to wash the smell of it out of my clothes. We may even be getting a divorce. I don’t normally take much notice of who wrote or directed a film but I did this time so I never have to go through an evening like that again.

    • Creda

      I am his wife and he’s right about the divorce for which the papers will cite his unreasonable behaviour in blaming me for choosing to see this film. I will be pointing out in my defence that I walked out of this ‘movie’ first, but only after involuntarily shouting “shit this is shit”.

  • shelley

    It seems the public don’t share your negative view, I am glad to be a member of the film going public and not a film snob.