Sunday 21 November 2010

Obscurity Files #29 - Nuns On The Run

With Harry Potter currently showing on virtually every cinema screen in the UK, I thought I'd take a look back at an early film featuring Hagrid himself, Robbie Coltrane. Today it's Nuns On The Run.
More after the jump...

Wanting to quit their life of crime and fearing their boss Casey is going to kill them, bank robbers Brian Hope and Charlie McManus (Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane) decide to double cross their employers and steal a large amount of Triad money so they can start a new life. When the plan goes a bit wrong and the cops arrive on the scene, the pair seek refuge in the first place available... the local convent.
How anyone could mistake these two men as a pair of ugly, ugly nuns I don't know, but somehow Brian and Charlie are able to pass themselves off as Sister's Euphemia and Inviolata, respectively. It takes them about ten minutes to be fully settled in within the convent, despite having no documentation to explain their arrival or a reason for being there. Nevertheless, they're soon teaching the school girls (18-22, nubile, legal) about the bible and how to slam dunk a basketball whilst wearing a habit.

Something of a guilty pleasure classic on many levels, this 1990 film makes great use of Yello on its soundtrack. The previous decade had seen the near ubiquitous use of their song 'Oh Yeah' in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Secret of My Success (now of course better known as the theme for Duffman on The Simpsons), but here we have the use of Yello's 1988 song 'The Race'. Not just once, not just twice; this film is totally comprised of chase scenes, so it's constantly played and thoroughly addictive. Just listen to this once and I promise you'll have it in your head for the rest of the day.

Nuns On The Run is one of that special group of 80's classics (alright, this was 1990) made by Handmade Films, along with Withnail & I and How To Get Ahead In Advertising. It's a particular kind of farcical humour that only us British can get away with. To see two well respected comedians forced to drag up...honestly, it makes you proud. As well as Robbie Coltrane's letcherous Sister showing locker room etiquette Hogwarts certainly would not approve of, we have Eric Idle as a (gulp) romantic leading man. On top of waiting for the all clear so they can bugger off with the suitcases loaded with money, Brian also needs to make sure his ditzy girlfriend Faith is safe from the gangsters and the Triads.

Not only is Faith a bit annoying, she's a serious liability, constantly getting into scrapes because she's virtually blind without her glasses. WELL DON'T TAKE THEM OFF THEN!!! As is her destiny in life she gets herself shot, leading to a heroic rescue attempt by the Nunned up pair. Unfortunately for Brian and Charlie, their slightly effeminate but still slightly threatening mob boss Casey has figured out their rescue plan, and is going to try and catch them and get his money back (or as the poster has it, his $1,000,000. How they stole dollars in central London from a bunch of Triads, I don't know).

Nuns On The Run is pure cheese that has its best joke is in the title, but I can't help but love this film a little bit. It's wacky in stupid in all the ways that would probably make me hate a different film, but in the hands of Coltrane and Idle it's quite a charming little romp. If it's gender-defying-undercover-roles-played-by-desperate-comedians-looking-to-further-their-careers that you're into, I'd rank this film somewhere behind Mrs Doubtfire but way ahead of Big Mommas House.

So there you go. I didn't even mention Sister Act once... Shit.

Save from obscurity? YES

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