Director: John Landis
Cast: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson
Edinburgh in the 1820s is a centre of medical excellence. But as everyone knows, you can’t teach medicine without a decent supply of dead bodies. With the graveyards closely watched and increasing competition for corpses, someone was bound to put two and two together and come up with an axe.
Burke (Pegg) and Hare (Serkis) are two cheeky oirish chappies trying to scratch a living with some mystical cheese mould. But when the old lodger-codger pops his clogs and Lucky – Hare’s alcoholic missus (played by Jessica Hynes) – demands they get rid of the body, Misters Burke and Hare find there’s money to be made.
They decide to go into the business of “surgical supplies” for anatomist and surgeon Robert Knox (Wilkinson), but after a disastrous expedition to a graveyard, they realise there’s a bit of a living people/cadaver bottleneck; one they attempt to ease with amusing results. And if that wasn't enough, Burke’s attempting to woo cute little Ginny (Fisher) by financially supporting her dream to direct an all-female production of Macbeth.
It’s not exactly historically accurate, but it bumbles along at a reasonable pace. It has some cheery slapstick and it alludes, in its darker moments to Sweeny Todd, but Landis' latest feels like it’s trying too hard.
Hynes gives a great performance as Serkis’ onscreen wife, pouring liquor into her porridge and cunningly planning murders. Pegg is likeable and Serkis is devious - lets face it, how many of us can actually tell how accurate those Northern Irish accents are? But they are both stereotypes, never anything close to real people. As for Fisher, her Scottish accent is so horrendous you’ll let all the others slide. The rest of the cast is simply a parade of caricatures, featuring everyone from Ronnie Corbett to Tim Curry via Stephen Merchant.
More fun than having your leg chopped off, Burke & Hare is about as deep and historically accurate as an ipod.
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