Pub Crawl [James Goodchild, UK, 2017]
From the film’s opening title card, a direct visual reference to Seinfeld (US, 1990-98), Pub Crawl knowingly nods and winks us into sitcom territory, signalling its intention as a tongue-in-cheek parody. The premise is short but sweet; a group of friends are on a boozy night out, as we share their experience of loud rock ‘n’ roll, dingy public toilets and increasingly blurred vision.
It is a charming enough piece of work that mines its influences from television comedies such as the aforementioned Seinfeld (even adding the over-the-top, synthesized slap-bass lick of the show’s theme to the soundtrack), Peepshow (UK, 2003-15), with some of the film shot in first-person perspective, and the blended fantasy-realism of Spaced (UK, 1999-2001) (and Edgar Wright’s subsequent ‘Cornetto Trilogy’).
Goodchild exploits to his advantage a low-budget aesthetic and flash-frame editing, managing to ironically highlight cross-cultural disparities found between the drab, Englishness of binge-drinking and hangovers and glossy, Americanised freeze-frame endings and simulated canned laughter.
At just under two minutes, this short film – it really plays out as more of a sketch – doesn’t outstay its invitation. The film’s sleight of hand pay-off, delivered in a moment of Brechtian bewilderment, is effective and amusing. Pub Crawl is a slight but enjoyable slice of postmodern comedy, which won’t have you rolling on the floor with laughter, but has enough to provide a few chuckles over a swift pint or two. Right, I’m off to the pub…