Thunderpants (PG)

This is a film about a boy who farts.

Actually, he farts a lot – so much so that his amazing gift for flatulence gets him a job with the US Space Centre thanks to the efforts of his best mate, a child prodigy.

Thunderpants is the kind of kids’ film that is as lousy on screen as it appears on paper. I ask you – an entire a film about a boy with the capacity to produce volcanic bottom burps? Please…

The real mystery about this ill-judged farrago is not how it made it to the screen – there’s a lot of dross out there as any self-respecting cinemagoer knows – but how director Pete Hewitt (of The Borrowers) managed to secure quite so many veteran thesps to take part.

The British contingent includes Simon Callow, Celia Imrie, Stephen Fry, Leslie Philips and Robert Hardy, while the Yanks lining up to join in the gassy giggles (I’m searching desperately for alliterative lines here to prevent myself falling asleep) include Paul Giamatti (one of the very best young US character actors, from Duets and Private Parts) and the great Ned Beatty.


I mean, is life so bad that some of the best actors in movies have to stoop so low?

Perhaps the worst element of the picture is the casting of Bruce Cook as hero Patrick Smash. The boy is toe-curlingly bad. On the other hand young Rupert Grint, Harry Potter’s copper-topped pal in last year’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is engaging enough, if slightly OTT, as junior boffin Alan A. Allen.

This is the King’s New Clothes world of filmmaking – a film that somehow crept through meeting after meeting of studio execs whose antennae for lousy scripts must have been pointed somewhere else on the day it got the green light. Obviously no-one dared shout ‘He’s wearing no clothes!’

Kids and adult fans of juvenile humour may find some laughs in its 87 minutes.

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