Billed as “the first British urban comedy,” thesp turned writer-helmer Adam Deacon’s “Anuvahood” puts a comedic spin on earlier hits “Kidulthood” and “Adulthood,” while arguably borrowing a marketing assist from them as well. The familiar turf of slang-spewing teens connecting and clashing in a London concrete wasteland is played for laughs here, as aspiring rapper Kenneth (Deacon) and his friends kill time, feebly attempt romantic conquests and fail to become drug dealers. Pic should connect with indulgent young target auds locally, especially on ancillary, but internationally, the answer to its characters’ oft-posed refrain “Ya get me?” will mostly be “No.”
Film reps the second effort from savvy U.K. distributor Revolver’s low-budget production arm Gunslinger, following 2010’s “Shank.” Its hard-to-match target is rival outfit Pathe’s 2008 breakout hit “Adulthood,” which grossed £3.5 million ($5.6 million) in Blighty’s cinemas and cemented the rising-star reputation of its multitasking creator, Noel Clarke. Deacon, Femi Oyeniran and Jaime Winstone are among the thesps in “Anuvahood” who also appeared in “Adulthood” and/or its predecessor, “Kidulthood,” but writer-director-thesp Clarke is not involved in this sendup and, to his reported chagrin, was unable to prevent Deacon’s use of the cherished “hood” suffix.
Auds expecting a sketch-based spoof of Clarke’s movies in the Hollywood tradition of “Date Movie” and “Vampires Suck” will be confounded by a linear narrative that’s more light-hearted homage than satire. In fact, per press notes, the film was modeled after such American urban comedies as “Friday.”
The humor here springs from the chasm between Kenneth’s unimpressive reality and his deluded notions of who he is — he likes to present himself as “K,” a ninja-kicking renowned DJ, capable of providing for his own long-suffering parents (Linda Robson, Perry Benson) and the baby mama (Winstone) of his incarcerated cousin. According to those who know him, he’s a loser, lacking such crucial totems of esteem as “P” (slang for “paper,” or money) and “links” (girls).
Gifted comic actor Deacon proves a genial central presence, which is just as well since the screenplay, co-scripted with Michael Vu (here playing a fellow gang member), doesn’t quite deliver. Paucity of strong comic situations, characters and dialogue reps a major demerit, although in-the-loop local auds may chuckle in recognition at the copious slang-heavy banter. Richie Campbell, as the gang’s nemesis Tyrone, delivers a big, clowning perf that certainly stands out, though it reps a tonal mismatch with the rest of the film. The presence of Ollie Barbieri, alumnus of popular youth-TV series “Skins,” might help broaden the pic’s appeal in Blighty, although his character, a visitor from Spain who latches on to K’s crew, isn’t convincingly drawn.
Given Deacon’s significant acting duties and status as a helming novice, he sensibly receives a co-directing assist from producer Daniel Toland. Tech values are not bad given the restrained budget, with flashes of wit evident in K’s childish bedroom furnishings and Tyrone’s wardrobe. Coin has sensibly been spent largely on the soundtrack, which includes hits by major Brit artists Tinie Tempah, Dizzy Rascal and Lily Allen.