In terms of British comedy, The League of Gentlmen was one of the most innovative television series of the time. Developing a perfect blend of horror and comedy, the quartet created some incredibly memorable characters. Set in the fictitious Northern town of Royston Vasey, the (first 2 at least) series were about a bizarre insular community that inhabited the town, and an outsider, Benjamin, who was desperately trying to escape.
The film inverts this theme as we see a number of Royston Vasey residents leaving the town and finding themselves in the real world. In an effort to save Vasey, and the “locals”, the characters must locate their creators and convince them to continue writing new material.
In typical, unconventional League of Gentlemen style, the film flits between time frames, the fictional world, the real world and descends into a story within a story within a story. The Vasey escapees discover that the League writer’s latest project is a period piece set in 17th century Britain and the characters and stories interweave as the film builds to an apocalyptic climax.
Admittedly, the sitcom doesn’t translate to the big screen as organically as some of it’s British comedy predecessors, and the script and story are (at times) all over the place. However, if a comedy film’s primary function is to make you laugh, it succeeds. There are individual moments and set pieces that are laugh out loud funny. There is something uniquely charming about the groups brand of humour, making the film completely different to any other comedy film of the time. With a myriad of British talent in the supporting cast such as Michael Sheen, Liam Cunningham, Bernard Hill, Victoria Wood, Simon Pegg and Peter Kay, the film actually does something that a lot of modern comedy films have failed to do, and that is, to make me laugh.