Take That have made their way to the big screen! Director Coky Giedroyc, who had a blast transporting Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl into the world of film in 2019, dons the coming-of-age cap once more in this new take on Tim Firth’s jukebox stage show, with Firth on screenwriting duties.
The plot is pretty simple (think Edgar Wright’s The World’s End with more Take That and fewer alien invaders) – a group of late-30s women reunite for the first time in decades in order to fly out to watch their favourite boy band perform in Athens. At the same time, we watch their younger selves bond over their love for “ The Boys”, who, naturally, bare a certain resemblance to Take That.
The film isn’t a direct translation of the stage show – which is now on a new tour after previously playing in the West End. The plot is played around with to juxtapose the two time periods, while orchestrations and script are naturally changed. Casting wise, producers have opted for a plethora of recognisable comedy names – Aisling Bea, Alice Lowe Jayde Addams, and stage vet Amaka Okafor forming the reuniting girls off on their adventure.
Fans of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will find some nice similarities here – the whole film is swaddled in feel-good nostalgia and, while there is naturally small bouts of heartbreak, it never feels like the stakes are all that high.
Choreographer Drew McOnie lavishes some sequences with fun kinetic spirit, adding a certain verve to the sleepy Lancastrian setting – especially during a final street party and earlier as the child performers get to show off their love for the central boy band. That said, other moments feel oddly misplaced – airport number “Shine” feels more like an easyJet advert.
Despite the highs of a rousing “Never Forget” at the close and an inventive “Pray” early on, a large portion of the music feels undercharged, never reaching the unexpected emotional stirrings of something like Mamma Mia! or Rocket Man. Sung over a lacklustre backing track, for example, “The Flood” just ends up a bit wet.
You get the sense that Giedroyc doesn’t know whether to lean too far into the camp, freewheeling fun of a jukebox film, or play it neater with a more earnest, character-driven comedy. In the end it never really succeeds at either.