Frank – How to describe Frank?
“Misfire of the century” would be one way to describe Frank.
In fact, Frank probably breaks my record for the lowest expectations I’ve ever had for a film. That said, after Arnie’s films of late, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Sabotage, but it turned out to be a great two hours of entertainment. Obviously, this is no action-fest but that’s not the point of the comparison.
That’s because I was a huge fan of Frank Sidebottom, the bizarre and incredible creation of the genius that was Chris Sievey, who also us brought us The Freshies - I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Check-out Desk , which also had a non-product placement version by changing the words in the title to “a Certain Manchester Megastore Check-Out Desk”, as well as ZX Spectrum game The Biz.
My one regret regarding this great man is that I never went to see him live – one of those things that you’re constantly putting off – since Sievey passed away in 2010. However, I have heard great tales from his gigs, such as the time someone bought him a pint afterwards, as a thankyou, expecting him to take off his head to sup the golden nectar within. Instead, Frank simply brought the pint glass up to his ‘mouth’, the majority of it gushed all down his front, and with that, he was off. No doubt, he also said, “Thankyou!”
I still have great memories of buying his musical works, however, including a 7″ shaped picture disc of The Sci-Fi EP with the lead track Space is Ace, featuring Frank and Little Frank as, respectively, Batbottom and Bobbins, plus his legendary double LP, “5/9/88”, so-called because it was released on September 5th 1988. Throughout his career, he had many memorable tunes including Guess Who’s Been On Match Of The Day, The Robbins Aren’t Bobbins, and even a cover version of The Beatles’ Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite.
Unfortunately, the music in this film has nothing to do with any of Frank’s real output. Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) inadvertently joins the Soronprfbs after their keyboard player tries to drown himself in the sea, playing for them at that evening’s gig, then they head off to Vetno, Ireland to record an album and practically turn it into a commune where no-one else can enter and they’re separated from everyone else for as long as it’ll take to record the album. Just like the real Frank never did.
I wanted to watch this, just to see how it would turn out, and I know it’s Jon Ronson‘s fictionalised version of events, which in this film is set in the present, rather than when he was first working with Chris Sievey but now having seen the finished product, I do feel he must have written this for a bet, not least for the fact that Frank speaks with an American accent, provided by Michael Fassbender who is also inside the head, and seeing the band go to perform at SXSW in Austin, Texas, as they’ve amassed a huge following of… just over 20,000 hits on Youtube.
Everything about this film is terrible. It’s like a bad joke that someone’s playing on real fans and it redefines the word “travesty”. I can’t describe any worse without swearing profusely.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film, plus the presentation and extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.