Five movies for Covid Lock Down

James Thellusson

1. Withnail & I

Once a year, I watch this movie alone with a bottle of wine. The family leave me to it. They understand I have a bromance with a movie about a bromance between two out of work young actors at the tail end of the Swinging Sixties (‘They’re selling hippy wigs in Woolworths, man’). It contains my favourite ever line in any movie: ‘We’ve gone on holiday by mistake’. I have been saying this to the family every time we’ve got off a plane or into a car to go on holiday for the last twenty years. Sad, I know. This movie is an elegy for youth and an age of experimentation. It’s outrageously funny. No sex but lots of drink and drugs. If it were a cult, I’d join it. In fact, it is a cult and I’m a member.

Pair with: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.

2. Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Andersen’s beautiful comic homage to a luxury hotel and its extraordinary manager Gustave H, just as the Nazis take control of Central Europe and crush the life out of an epoch of grace and elegance. It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs but the script, especially Gustave’s musings on life, are sensationally witty. The plot, which cracks along with chases, escapes, shoot outs and ski scenes is a comic fusion of a Bond movie and the Keystone Cops. The stellar cast is hilarious. I’d share my favourite quotes from the movie, but I’d get flamed. Google: ‘Quotes of Gustave H’.

Pair with: Fawlty Towers.

3. Addams Family Values

I don’t know where to start praising this movie. Or finish. Diamond sparkling dialogue. Gemstone gags. Back to back side ripping scenes. And, at its heart, one of the most loving marriages ever imagined between Gomez and his wife Morticia. My wife bought me the Addams Family pinball machine for my 50th because she knows how much I like it. Favourite lines? Man in the Middle would choose when Morticia turns to Gomez and says: ‘Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.

My favourite line is spoken by Uncle Fester, played by the genius Christopher Lloyd, responding to Debbie, the gold-digging nanny:

Debbie: ‘With your looks, your charm…women must follow you everywhere!’

Fester: ‘Store detectives.’

Pair with: The rest of the Addams family movies.

4. Mike Bassett England Manager

Mike Bassett England Manager is undoubtedly the funniest football movie ever made. Played by Ricky Tomlinson, Bassett is a foul mouthed, tactically illiterate, unsuccessful English football manager bizarrely selected to manage the England team. His team selections are as absurd as his press conferences and his team talks. Writer and Chiswick local Rob Sprackling was the first to create what has now become an archetype – the bone headed English football coach. One for footie fans. And those who like to see it satirised.

Pair with: The Life of Brian

5. School of Rock

The first time we saw this, the family and I were stuck inside in a cottage in Cornwall. It was wet, wet, wet. We watched the movie three times (almost back to back). We crowd surfed the smaller children across the sitting room. We air guitared along with the ‘face melting’ solos by Dewey Finn, the lead character played by Jack Black. Favourite scene: Dewey Finn singing ‘Math is a wonderful thing’.

Pair with: The Belles of St Trinian’s