Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Iain Morris (of The Inbetweeners fame), The Festival is a new raunchy buddy comedy set in the community of the music festival. Although the plot itself is rather generic and predictable, Morris has an undeniable talent with directing comedy, and the script by Keith Akushie and Joe Parham gives him plenty of great bits to use.
The film follows a recent college graduate as he goes on a trip to a music festival hoping to get over a breakup, sending him and his best friend on a journey filled with ridiculous hijinks. The main plot of the movie, involving the two friends doing increasingly crazy stuff, is quite compelling. However, this ends up being weighed down by unnecessary subplots that don’t add much to the emotional arc of the film.
The laughs of the movie come early and often, allowing the pacing to move along at a relatively consistent rate. That said, there is one portion of the film, in which the protagonist goes on a search for a mysterious woman he encountered, that is particularly conventional and drags the movie to a bit of a halt. Ultimately, the film is able to recover with a very funny sequence, but that portion does not work.
A majority of the movie’s humor is of the raunchy variety, and so this film is not for anyone with a low tolerance for crudeness. From the first joke, it is immediately obvious that this movie is not going to be particularly highbrow, and while there are some moments in which the dialogue easily could have been much wittier, there are still plenty of laughs to be found.
One of the reasons that the film ultimately works is that the relationship between the protagonist and his sidekick is so endearing. Admittedly, the movie doesn’t explore the nuances of this dynamic with much depth, but thanks to the chemistry between the two lead actors, Joe Thomas and Hammed Animashaun, the audience will at least be able to believe their friendship.
In addition to Thomas and Animashaun, the supporting cast contains plenty of memorable turns, ranging from bit parts to more significant roles. Comedian Claudia O’Doherty is hilarious in her role as the ditsy companion that the duo meets on their journey. Jemaine Clement has a smaller part, but his performance is still as fun as always.
On a technical level, Morris does a good job of nailing the comedic timing of the script, but the film is otherwise lacking in visual style. At times, it feels like Morris is trying a bit too hard to be cool in regards to his approach to the music festival portions of the movie. These sequences look and feel like they came out of a music video, and that doesn’t exactly work within the context of the studio comedy it is.
Iain Morris has delivered yet another entertaining comedy with The Festival, although one can’t help but feel like it is often shallow. There are plenty of laughs to be had in this film, but not as much depth of emotion as the filmmakers seem to hope.
The Festival is now available on VOD.