The Hooligan Factory, 2014
Directed by Nick Nevern
Starring Jason Maza, Nick Nevern, Tom Burke, Ray Fearon, Steven O’Donnell, Morgan Watkins, Josef Altin, Ronnie Fox, Leo Gregory, Keith-Lee Castle and Lorraine Stanley
Dex, Danny and The Hooligan Factory travel the length of the country on a mission to re-establish their firm’s glory days. However, the police are closing in and we get a sense that the Hooligan Factory’s best days may be behind them, but with Danny on their side, and Dex finding his old form who knows where this may lead. After all… Its a funny old game.
Any screenwriting lecturer will tell you that if you want to break into the UK film market, pen yourself a script about football hooliganism. The reason for this is because there is a huge demand for it, they’re cheap to make and, like zombie movies, they can sit loud and proud on the bottom shelves of ASDA. Nick Nevern is a man who has featured in a few of these hooligan movies but rather than go tread the same steps as other writers, he went in a different direction – he went for comedy.
The Hooligan Factory does for hooligan movies what Scary Movie did for horror or Airplane! did for disaster films. It might not be as funny as either of those, but it certainly tries and it succeeds more than it fails.
Danny (Jason Maza, himself no stranger to the genre) is a young lad who wants to be as respected as his old man, a legend in the football hooligan scene. He is taken in by famous hooligan Dex who has just gotten out of prison and together they attempt to re-establish The Hooligan Factory with the likes of Midnight (the only black hooligan), Bullet (a nutter), Trumpet (a coke head obsessed with hooligan movies) and Old Bill (an undercover cop).
Like some spoof movies, the more you’ve seen of the genre the more you will get out of it. If you have sat through all of the hooligan movies of the last decade then The Hooligan Factory will hit all the right notes for you. It pitches itself against the likes of Rise of the Footsolider and The Film with pinpoint precision and it parodies them incredibly well. Nevern and Michael Lindley are men who really understand and “get” this genre which then helps create perfect jibes against them.
That’s not to say you have to be a fan of these movies to get all the laughs from The Hooligan Factory, far from it. Nevern and Lindley make sure that there is enough humour outside of the direct spoofs in the movie to ensure it never singles out audience members who are none the wiser. Jokes like Trumpet being “the new breed” of hooligan and undercover cop Old Bill are funny enough for everyone to get. Old Bill in particular is a real highlight of the movie.
But it’s really Nevern and Maza who are the stars of the picture. The pair have incredible comic timing and play to the spoof genre brilliantly. Nevern is outstanding as Dex and he balances the straight and comedic lines perfectly. Maza is given the straight man character which gives us a great ‘in’ as the audience and he excels in the role. They have a great dynamic together and their relationship feels genuine, even for a spoof. Everyone plays their roles brilliantly, but its Nevern and Maza who carry the movie.
Sadly though, The Hooligan Factory is not entirely brilliant. Despite some clever writing and great performances, The Hooligan Factory just isn’t that funny. It’s not laugh-free and it’s better than the likes of Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans, but it won’t be looked back on in years to come with much reverence. It’s a simple case of some jokes working while others don’t. To give it credit, there is a lot of effort put forth and it pays off for the most part, it just sadly falls flat in a few places and it almost feels a bit too niche.
It may not be “laugh out loud hilarious”, but The Hooligan Factory will certainly please an audience. Not many people could have pulled this off and in the hands of lesser filmmakers it could have been unwatchable. Thankfully, The Hooligan Factory has a great cast and some good laughs. If you’re a fan of the hooligan genre, this will have you rolling in the aisles but if not, then it will easily raise a chuckle and a smile – which is more than can be said for a lot of spoof movies.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.
Watch our interview with Nick Nevern and Jason Maza here.