Film Review: MindHorn

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In the ever evolving nature vs nurture of Man, depending on the time that you born into obliviously has a profound effect on the development of your mind-set. Alexander the Great had Aristotle, while to our eternal joy and reward Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby clearly suckled the cathode nipple of 60s, 70s and 80s detective TV shows along the likes of ‘The Saint’, ‘The Bionic Man’, ‘Charlies Angels’ etc, but with a profound sway to British much lower budgeted versions such ‘Dempsey and Makepeace’ with a few episodes of ‘The New Avengers’ thrown in for style.

As you no doubt be pondering after all of those shows flashback into your mind, what a beautiful supper spread of ingredients for giving a very healthy nutrient content for a comedy fit brain (that’s much better than a sports fit brain). And it is. After clearly doing loads of brain pushups to a mixtape of theme tunes to all those shows, Julian and Simon sat down after a Sam Fox workout and lovingly created and scripted the world of ‘Mindhorn’ (2016).


In the best way possible it’s an idiosyncratic gem of a comedic Frankenstein creation, with a ridiculously extra amount of extra funny bones spliced in instead of needless things, no that’s not a gun in my pocket, it’s a fistful of jokes. And to it’s credit it’s loyally stayed within the parameters of a more regional British quirky disposition. Rather than blandly trying to cater to all, it flies it’s true colours proudly (with none of that xenophobic bollox I might add) and successfully.

In that traditional UK adaptation, bureau de change influence of shows from the USA, of course the natural choice of a twinned to Los Angeles is Douglas on The Isle of Man. It was the setting for the adrenalin beating heart of the fictional 80s crime fighting series ‘Mindhorn’. A partly bionic sleuth of a man’s man, a woman’s man of a man who showered in Brut aftershave and saw the pirate love child of Jim Rockford and Magnum P.I. every time he slid across the red bonnet of his highly polished Jaguar XJ-S convertible.

Barratt wonderfully plays Richard Thorncroft who plays Bruce P. Mindhorn, with his surgically enhanced eye that can ‘literally see truth’. But the heydays of living like Duran Duran on the Isle of Man have truly gone out with the tide and his hairline. Now somewhat washed up and waisted out he’s retreated into a slightly delusional perspective with his daily (unsuccessful) self motivational chats. Always on the look out for opportunities, one arises when a suspected serial killer gets to work back on his old sleuthing grounds.

Returning to help the actual police on the island, he must resurrect the Mindhorn character as the suspect seems to have a slightly maladjusted headspace where he believes he is a character from the old TV show and will only communicate with the shows hero.

It’s a delightfully crazy set up, and it relishes in it’s somewhat demented vision, as it should. Ridiculously rich in detail (the range of fake show merchandise that is portrayed in the movie deserves an Oscar alone) in depth of details that will reward countless viewings, wonderful absurd script and commitment to the lunacy by all involved.


Great directing (by Farnaby) and some great stand out pieces and moments that will no doubt inspire a cult following and many a theme party, there is much treasure to be unearthed here.


There are many clips shown from original series which are brilliantly executed and really make you remember growing up on these Bic pen ticked TV listings evenings. To a slightly lesser extent of a success, the Thorncroft/Mindhorn character is extremely reminiscent of Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge creation and foolhardy escapades. He’s great fun, but there were too many parallels for my liking, but that’s somewhat moot when clearly Coogan has zero issue with it, being that he turns up as an ex colleague in the movie.

That’s not to slight it either, there’s a beautiful, refreshing idiocy and ridiculous joy about it all, that if you jump on board (and you should) you won’t get an L.A. tan, but you’ll feel the hearty warmth.

7/10 ‘Mindhorn’ is out now in the UK. Hopefully tons of merchandise is forthcoming.
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Steve Clarke

Born in Celtic lands, nurtured in art college, trained by the BBC, inspired by Hunter S. Thompson and released onto the battlefront of all things interesting/inspiring/good vibes... people, movies, music, clubbing, revolution, gigs, festivals, books, art, theatre, painting and trying to find letters on keyboards in the name of flushthefashion. Making sure it's not quite on the western front... and beyond.

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