E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // November 17th, 2010
A comedy about how far you'd go to change your life!
Paul Callow (Mackenzie Crook, The Office UK) is a wannabe novelist stuck in a dreary day job, driving trains in the London underground. After accidently striking two pedestrians within a matter of days, Paul is informed about the "three and out" rule, an unwritten law that means if a driver kills three people within a month, he must be paid off with 10 years of salary to compensate for the psychological damages. Seeing this as a chance to correct his life, Paul looks for a suicidal accomplice to help him achieve his goal, stumbling upon Irish drunkard Tommy Cassidy (Colm Meaney, Get Him to the Greek) during his search. Tommy agrees to throw himself in front of Paul's train under two conditions, the first that he is given a sizable sum of money to spend before his inevitable demise, the second that Paul accompany him on a road trip to make things right with his estranged wife (Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake) and daughter Frankie (Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans).
Three and Out is one of the poorer comedies I've had the displeasure of seeing in recent years, a grave pity given the acting talent involved. Outside of his work with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, I've found little to admire about Mackenzie Crook over the years, but the rest of the cast list is filled with capable performers, all undone by a hideous screenplay. The script credited to Steve Lewis and Tony Owen is truly abysmal, finding absolutely no comic mileage and forcing plenty of dramatic clichés on audiences during its overextended 99 minute runtime. I didn't laugh once at Three and Out, the film failing to combine black humor, silly slapstick and the occasional moment of supposed emotional poignancy with any semblance of skill or tonal continuity. The general outline of the project has some minor promise, but the creative team on show here have fluffed it up royally.
Crook is just a wet blanket in the lead, unappealing and dreary in his depiction of a man fed up with life. The actor looks uncomfortable during all of his scenes, failing to get a grip on either the comedic or dramatic elements that pepper the movie. Colm Meaney at least brings a little fighting spirit to his character, but the writing renders him an unrealistic and unconvincing screen entity. For a man days from taking his own life, Tommy has been written as excessively sassy and bubbly, making it hard for audiences to get onboard with his suicidal tendencies. Crook and Meaney are obviously meant to boast an electric odd couple dynamic, but there is literally no chemistry or even awkward tension between them during the entire production. It's a completely vacant and unsubstantial relationship to have at the centre of a motion picture. Imelda Staunton is fine in her few short scenes, and whilst her accent is all over the place Gemma Arterton fills up the screen quite nicely. However their parts are relatively small in comparison to the main male bond, and that's a pairing so flaccid that no movie could properly function around it.
Director Jonathan Gershfield shows no capacity for comedy, mistiming gags throughout the entirety of the affair. Three and Out is also a rather visually bland feature, the filmmakers have concocted a product not far removed from the ugly aesthetics of low budget British TV. Gershfield looks much more at home when attempting to stage lower key moments of dramatic intensity (a few of these between Meaney and Staunton actually approach being watchable) but on the whole his talents behind the camera aren't very convincing on the basis of this wretched effort. Three and Out also appears rather desperate at times, as if it was fully aware of its own shitty quality. A running gag concerning cannibalism is shoddy to begin with, but the movie continually rams it down viewer's throats in search of a quick and disposable giggle. If that isn't telling, I don't know what is.
Oh, it's also worth noting the film received a theatrical release in its native UK over 2½ years ago. Not exactly a fact to inspire much confidence.
The DVD comes equipped with a perfunctory 25 minute making of (it's all congratulatory talking heads and film clips), and a few unimpressive deleted scenes. It's definitely more than this movie deserves, but hardly enough to even warrant considering a rental. The audio and video quality is fine, a solid 5.1 surround track at least providing this lame effort with a little bit of audible oomph.
Had I seen Three and Out during its initial run in 2008, it would almost certainly have ranked amongst my least favourite films of that year. Hell, within that 12 month span we got cinematic abortions like The Love Guru and The Happening, both of which I'd rather view again than this execrable mess.
If you hadn't guessed, I'm throwing down a guilty verdict.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes