Beyond the Pole (2009)
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Pole
With considerable experience in both comedy and genuine docus, helmer David L. Williams... knows exactly the filmmaking cliches he's spoofing, as well as the deadpan comic timing needed to stretch this over feature length.
This is gummy (if welcome) eco-film satire, then, but mostly just a vehicle for tent and crampon gags, and for Mangan to perfect his grating-dolt shtick.
This engaging comedy is consistently amusing rather than ferociously funny, but it has heart, ensuring an unexpectedly affecting climax.
Eschewing easy slapstick, director David L Williams finds humour in unexpected places. The Arctic has never been so much fun.
A likeable but giggle-free Brit comedy that brings nothing new to the ubiquitous mockumentary format, it succeeds only in gumming its targets instead of sinking its teeth into them.
It is by turns a ferocious 'j'accuse' of the limits of liberal intervention and the myth of personal responsibility, underpinned by a surprisingly bitter current of darkness and despair.
Audience Reviews for Beyond the Pole
Quite fun but pretty lightweight in most ways, this should, perhaps, have gone straight to television and only the impressive locations ever make it feel any more than that.
The San Francisco Independent Film Festival premiered Beyond the Pole on Feb. 5 to a majority of the audience sharing the same opinion: we loved it. The film opens with images of a harsh reality - global warming and the effects it has taken in the Arctic. However, the story quickly turns to comedy to get the message out. Best friends Mark (Stephen Mangan) and Brian (Rhys Thomas) decide to hike to the North Pole unsupported and without ever doing such a thing in their lives. Filmed as a "mockumentary" of their travels, the duo aims to get entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the first unsupported, carbon-neutral, organic, and vegetarian expedition to the North Pole. Their family and friends scoff at the idea (with much worry from Brian's wife) and continually tell them that they will die. Their response: "We're not going there to die, we're going there to live!" with the motto of Don't be impotent, be important! Halfway through the film the gay, Norwegian Olympic duo starring Alexander Skarsgård and Lars Arentz-Hansen enter into the mix. Claiming to be a carbon-neutral, vegetarian, and organic expedition as well, it becomes a race to the finish between them and Mark and Brian. Hilarity ensues when there is a lover's quarrel between the Norwegians in their native language. A highlight of the four of them together is when there is a dispute over whether Brian took a biscuit from the Norwegian team or not (clip below). As the days go on and time begins to run out, Mark is beginning to succumb to the stress of their travels. Mark takes measures into his own hands and doing whatever it takes to get them to the North Pole first and as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Brian struggles to keep Mark's composure during their journey. Stephen and Rhys do a remarkable job portraying best friends; their chemistry together makes one think they have known each other for ages. Rosie Cavaliero who plays Brian's wife, Sandra is fantastic - while she is riddled with worry about her husband, she is also supportive of his decision. The film also stars Helen Baxendale (Friends) and Mark Benton, who do a great job as key roles throughout the movie. All in all, I give the film five out of five stars. You will find yourself laughing out loud with the audience and learning an important lesson on global warming as well. Director and co-writer, David L. Williams had the right idea to use comedy to raise awareness to the masses on the issue. Review by the Alexander Skarsgard Examiner with Examiner.com
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