×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Calcium Kid

Orlando Bloom is the marquee draw in Brit boxing mockumentary, but few outside his young femme fan base look likely to support the low-fat pic. Initially amusing laffer about a South London milkman who ends up fighting the world middleweight champ becomes winded way before the final bell, with only supporting turns by local comedians to sustain interest.

With:
Jimmy Connelly - Orlando Bloom Herbie Bush - Omid Djalili Artie Cohen - Michael Lerner Jose Mendez - Michael Pena Pete Wright - Tamer Hassan Stan Parlour - Rafe Spall Clive Connelly - Frank Harper Pat Connelly - Ronni Ancona Paddy O'Flanaghan - David Kelly Angel - Billie Piper

Orlando Bloom, the princely Paris in upcoming “Troy,” is the marquee draw in Brit boxing mockumentary “The Calcium Kid,” but few outside his young femme fan base look likely to support the low-fat pic. Initially amusing laffer about a South London milkman who ends up fighting the world middleweight champ becomes winded way before the final bell, with only supporting turns by local comedians to sustain interest. Clock this one, which went out April 30 in Blighty, as the first misfire from Working Title’s usually reliable low-budget shingle WT² (“Shaun of the Dead,” “My Little Eye,” “Billy Elliot”).

Bloom plays Jimmy Connelly, an eager-beaver young milkman in working-class Lambeth who trains part-time at the gym of manager/promoter Herbie Bush (standup comic Omid Djalili). When British middleweight champ Pete Wright (Tamer Hassan) injures himself on the eve of his fight with Yank world champ Jose Mendez (Michael Pena), desperate Herbie drafts Jimmy to take Pete’s place. As Jimmy has been drinking two pints of milk a day all his life, his bones are hard as steel, and Herbie nicknames him “The Calcium Kid” for what he bills as a “Melee on the Tele.”

Popular on Variety

The unseen docu crew, that — in one of the film’s running jokes — is always being verbally or physically abused, joins the story seven days before Jimmy’s fight, as the media frenzy mounts. So amateur that he hasn’t even fought in a ring yet, Jimmy is trained by one of Herbie’s gymrat pals, a whimsical old Irish codger called Paddy (David Kelly).

With Bloom playing Jimmy as an all-round nice guy, the comedy comes totally from the colorful supporting roles. Jimmy’s trashy mom, Pat (impressionist Ronni Ancona), bills herself as a “massage therapist” and even offers the film crew a quickie after her interview. Jimmy’s childhood buddy, Stan (Rafe Spall), is a total bum, and his father (Frank Harper) is still in stir. Herbie himself is such a tree-swinger he can’t even pronounce the word “pugilism.”

Pic’s comic celebration of British amateurism and muddling along is thrown into sharp relief as the story briefly turns its attention to Mendez, all high-octane Yank professionalism under his baleful manager, Artie Cohen (Michael Lerner). When Jimmy, reading from cue cards provided by Herbie during a press conference, threatens to send Mexican-American Mendez “back on a banana boat,” an anti-racist storm breaks out in the Brit tabloid press, and the whole country turns against the humble milkman.

Film nixes its mockumentary credentials early on by so obviously being a scripted movie, with the sheer unbelievability of the basic premise, as well as devices like Jimmy’s killer punch. That’s all well and good, but in its place there’s a lack of sufficient invention in the script by Scottish writers Raymond Friel and Derek Boyle to sustain a 90-minute movie much beyond the halfway point. Pic pales in comparison to Brit soccer mockumentary, “Mike Bassett, England Manager” (2001), which featured sharp writing plus a strong lead perf by Ricky Tomlinson.

Boyish-looking Bloom makes Jimmy likable enough, but it’s not a strong enough performance to anchor a one-joke movie. Kudos go more to the supports, especially Djalili, superb as the gross-out Herbie, plus Kelly as the blarney-full trainer and Spall as Jimmy’s terminally slacker pal.

Tech credits are OK, given the docu approach, though the penchant for fancy jump cuts by first-time helmer Alex de Rakoff (who made the vidgame “Grand Theft Auto 2”) seems misplaced in the context.

The Calcium Kid

U.K.

Production: A UIP release of a Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title presentation of a WT² production. Produced by Natascha Wharton. Executive producers, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner. Co-producer, Richard Johns. Directed by Alex de Rakoff. Screenplay, Raymond Friel, Derek Boyle, de Rakoff.

Crew: Camera (color), David M. Dunlap; editors, Maguerite Arnold, Jon Harris; music, the Boilerhouse Boys; production designer, Joel Collins; art director, Daniel May; costume designer, Sammy Sheldon; sound (Dolby Digital), Nic Le Messurier, Brendon Nicholson; assistant director, Nick Heckstall-Smith; casting, Jina Jay. Reviewed at BAFTA, London, April 14, 2004. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Jimmy Connelly - Orlando Bloom Herbie Bush - Omid Djalili Artie Cohen - Michael Lerner Jose Mendez - Michael Pena Pete Wright - Tamer Hassan Stan Parlour - Rafe Spall Clive Connelly - Frank Harper Pat Connelly - Ronni Ancona Paddy O'Flanaghan - David Kelly Angel - Billie PiperWith: Frank Bruno, Chris Eubank.

More Film

  • Jesse Eisenberg

    Film News Roundup: Jesse Eisenberg to Star in Indie Thriller 'Wild Indian' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In today’s film news roundup, Jesse Eisenberg is starring and exec producing “Wild Indian”; Jason Bateman is directing “Shut In”; “Saturday Night Live” veteran Paula Pell is honored; and the Palm Springs Film Festival sets its opening and closing films. CASTING Jesse Eisenberg is starring in and executive producing the independent thriller “Wild Indian,” Variety [...]

  • disney d23

    Top 19 Media Trends of 2019: Disney's Box Office Dominance

    The domestic box office market share over the last 12 years provides a sobering reminder of how important franchises are to studio performance, especially for Disney. Although the 2019 box office looks to be falling short of the previous year’s total, Disney is ending the decade on the highest possible note, becoming the first studio ever [...]

  • Pierce Brosnan Cinderella

    Pierce Brosnan to Play the King in Camila Cabello's 'Cinderella'

    Pierce Brosnan will play the king opposite Camila Cabello in writer-director Kay Cannon’s new telling of “Cinderella” for Sony Pictures. Billy Porter, Idina Menzel and Nicholas Galitzine are also confirmed to star in the film, which will be released in theaters Feb. 5, 2021. Cabello, a multi-platinum selling and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, will be integrally involved [...]

  • John Boyega

    John Boyega: 'Star Wars' Fandom Conflict Is 'The Most Stupid Thing in the World'

    Unlike his “Star Wars” compatriots Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac, John Boyega enjoys a robust presence on social media, with nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter and over 1.6 million followers on Instagram. He regularly engages with fans, and posts inside looks at his life inside the “Star Wars” media maelstrom. It’s meant that Boyega [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

    'Watchmen' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Says He Would Consider Playing Superman

    Those who are caught up on “Watchmen” know Yahya Abdul-Mateen II knows how to strike the balance between understated and omnipotent. He’s also no stranger to playing superheroes, as Aquaman’s nemesis Black Manta in the DC Universe. But asked whether he would consider taking on another DC Extended Universe role — Superman — Abdul-Mateen told [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    'Once Upon a Time,' 'Farewell,' 'Judy' Excluded From Writers Guild Awards

    The scripts for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” and Tom Edge’s “Judy” have been excluded from the Writers Guild of America Awards. Unlike other guilds, the WGA excludes as candidates any screenplays not produced under its jurisdiction or that of another guild. That’s because the WGA has the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content