Low-budget British horse-racing comedy falls at the first hurdle
The cinematic equivalent of the clumps of horse dung that characters repeatedly step into for the cheapest of laughs, Outside Bet is strictly a non-runner in terms of light entertainment.
In this painfully naïve British comedy, Bob Hoskins painfully overplays his ‘geezer’ card as Percy ‘Smudge’ Smith, the head of a band of Fleet Street hacks who unwisely pass their redundancy money to wide-boy Bax (Calum MacNab), who invests it on a racehorse called the Mumper. The stakes rise for the group when Bax’s father Threads (Philip Davis) is diagnosed with cancer, leading to a predictable climax in which several generations of British stars, including Rita Tushingham, Jenny Agutter and Adam Deacon, cheer on the Mumper in the hope of getting their money back.
Writer/director Sacha Bennett sets his story against the privatisation of the British press in the mid-80s, but his ham-fisted treatment of the politics amounts to nothing more than sub-Full Monty posturing. Jaw-droppingly low production values (the race-track finale looks like it was filmed in an empty field) are matched with dated misogynist comedy, bargain-basement sentimentality and glib ‘money-solves-everything’ moralising, ensuring Outside Bet falls at the first hurdle.
Selected release from Fri 27 April.