Postman Pat (2014)

Seldom has a poster so utterly failed to encompass the true insanity of a motion picture project.
Seldom has a poster so utterly failed to encompass the true insanity of a motion picture project.

“He’s About to Deliver the Goods”

Directed by Mike Disa
Starring Stephen Mangan, Jim Broadbent, Rupert Grint, Ronan Keating, David Tennant

Pat Clifton (Mangan) is a dedicated postman, and a dedicated husband, father and cat owner. When Edwin Carbuncle (Peter Woodward), an executive from the Special Delivery Service head office, slashes the company bonuses because they spend too much time rescuing sheep, he enters a TV talent competition to win the holiday his wife Sarah (Susan Duerden) has always dreamed of.

Pat is a surprise hit, and suddenly has to cope with the pressures of fame as well as the malice of his rival’s showbiz agent, Wilf (Tennant). In the meantime, Carbuncle fields an army of Pat-Bots in an attempt to take over the SDS… and tomorrow, the world!

What’s wrong with it?

As the synopsis may suggest, the film is has a wildly erratic tone, and indeed sense of scale, veering from Pat’s struggle with the demands of fame to a world domination plot with red-eyed killer robot Pats (and the nightmare rocket fuel that is the Jess-bot.)

The references in the film include a lot that is specifically for the parents, but Jess-bot’s attack message – ‘Faster Pussybot, Kill Kill’ – is a bit much. I’m not sure that children’s cinema needs to be calling back to exploitation films of the 1960s.

The robots, especially Jess-bot, are kind of terrifying (although my daughter didn’t seem bothered.)

Pat is basically unruffled by everything; it’s as if he can’t get his head around the shift to life-and-death stakes.

The female characters in this film are kind of an afterthought.

It seems a little odd to make a film of a show in progress and recast all of the voices.

What’s right with it?

It’s actually pretty funny. A lot of critics were very sophisticated and blase about it, but I liked a lot of the references and even the bizarre tonal shifts.

The performances were universally good, with Woodward’s evil genius as a high point. (“I’ll move to America! I’m not even a villain there.”)

How bad is it really?

It’s just… really weird. I have no idea how much the average child would actually get (my daughter still being at the stage where she’s counting cats rather than engaging deeply with the narrative,) but I think it’s hilarious.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Carbuncle shows kindly CEO Mr Brown (Jim Broadbent) the test video for his robot postmen, including models which resemble the robot from Lost in Space (the show, not the film) and the Daleks.

The Pat-Bot returning a girl’s letter to Santa (the girl in the wheelchair, no less) due to ‘insufficient postage’ is kinda priceless.

What’s up with…?

  • Faster Pussybot, kill kill?
  • The Jess-bot’s infinitely bouncing eye-beams? It’s like Darkseid vs. Batman all up in this place.
  • The metatextual references? There is a lot of joking about CGI movies and puppet shows.

Ratings

Production values – The soundtrack eschews the simplicity of the original theme tunes for an album release compilation of goybirl band ‘classics’ which harrows the soul. There is also a serious touch of the uncanny valley in the computer modeled versions of the puppet faces from the show, and in particular Jess’s green eyes are a window into the heart of madness. 15

postman-pat-the-movie-640
Give me your soul!

Dialogue and performances – The voice acting is consistently good, and the dialogue quick and wry, however many critics feel it is beneath them. 9
Plot and execution – The plot is all over the place. I have a certain grudging respect for a film that not only doesn’t know if it’s a cosy morality number about fame or a crazed robot fest, but actually makes a feature of that uncertainty, but it’s pretty goddamn fucked up nonetheless. 12
Randomness – Jess-bot. Fuuuck. 14

Die, Superman!
Die, Superman!

Waste of potential – Man… fuck, I don’t know. I literally do not know if this is the most awesome thing you could do with a Postman Pat movie or complete lunacy or both. It’s sure as hell not the film I would have expected. 10

Overall 60%

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