Fisherman's Friends: One and All
Aug 23, 2022
Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft
Piers Ashworth, Meg Leonard, Nick Moorcroft
James Purefoy, Imelda May, David Hayman, Richard Harrington, Maggie Steed
Fisherman’s Friends was one of the surprise hits of 2019 with its tale of sea dogs who become recording artists after a music executive spots them on holiday in Cornwall. Based on a true story it’s the type of film that can only be made in Britain with its earthy, self-effacing charm. But is there room for a sequel when the original so neatly tied a bow on the story? It just about gets there, but works hard to wring the last drops from an idea that occasionally feels stretched.
The story picks up where the first film left off. The sea shanty men have a top 10 album and sell-out tour under their belts. However, that difficult second album is on the horizon and all is not well. Group leader Jim (James Purefoy) is grieving for the loss of his father Jago (David Hayman). The record label is pressing them to find a replacement and polish up the group's image. They find Morgan (Richard Harrington), a Welshman and fellow Celt who fits the bill. However, Jim is not happy and a disastrous press launch seemingly puts paid to their chances. Jago’s vision comes to him but fails to pacify or ease the pain. Salvation is close at hand as faded pop star Aubrey (Imelda May) tips up at the family B and B. Jim finds a kindred spirit and his rehabilitation begins.
Like the vast majority of sequels its thunder is largely stolen by the original; and the film is basically re-telling the same story with a slightly different focus. Its heart is undoubtedly in the right place but is far too predictable and repetitive. The clash between simple fishermen and sharp London suits running the record label was covered in the first film. The script continuity also raised a number of questions. For example, the explanation given for the absence of key characters was fanciful to say the least. But it still works as a study of what can be achieved in life, and that grief does end if we let it end. The coast of Cornwall looks more spectacular than ever, and the cast inject life into an otherwise lacklustre script. For all these shortcomings it’s immensely likeable and a pleasant diversion from the travails of life.