Brassed Off

Bomb Rating: 

There are only about a billion of these "music overcomes adversity" films already in existence. Yet every year when a new one comes out, some dumb-ass critic labels it the best film of the year because he's awestruck by the capacity of average human beings to dance or sing when life is taking a big crap on them.

During Great Britain's Thatcher era, newly empowered conservatives were taking a big, right-wing dump on little towns which relied on coal mines for sustenance. Since nuclear power got Margaret really flush, she started closing down coal mines one by one in favor of nuclear plants. While Thatcher's trickle-down policies were providing relief to radioactivity fetishists, the violated peons were seeking cover within that enduring opiate of the masses, the brass band.

Even as life as they know it begins to crumble, Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) pushes his fellow townsfolk to compete in a nationwide brass band contest in order to show their spirit. The main subplot involves a gorgeous woman named Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) who shows up to play trumpet with a bunch of fat losers and, for lack of anything better to do, gets involved with the alpha loser, Andy (Ewan McGregor).

We're supposed to feel sorry for the town citizens just like we're supposed to feel sorry for farmers who insist on cultivating the desert only to be nailed by drought, flood-plain dwellers who get inundated every ten years, and employees who took the stock options plan at Apple Computer. Choices are an integral part of being human and when you choose not to move out of a dangerous or dead-end situation, you pretty much put the "pathetic" in "sympathetic." This movie's insistence on treating its characters as victims rather than idiots proves to be its undoing.

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