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Published February 13th, 2006 | by Mike Barnard

Heroes and Villains Review

Classification: 15 Director: Selwyn Roberts Rating: 2/5

Is your partner cheating on you? A question many people have faced up to in doomed or misguided relationships, and one that sparks a lucrative business proposition for a group of twentysomething London no-hopers in this meek British romantic comedy. Starting out as a witty take on relationships and a desire to get one over on all the cheats out there, Heroes and Villains quickly abandons its initial early promise and descends into a laboured sob story lifted from an episode of Hollyoaks.

Guided by the frustrated-with-his-life main character Jack (Raymond), we meet his group of lame friends. He complains of working in a dead-end job for losers, with losers, while the boss lords it up with the women. Meanwhile, flatmate Sam (Corden) is wasting away and to make matters worse, a bit of undercover work by his friends reveals his girl is cheating on him. Sensing this could be a business opportunity, they put an advert in the paper offering to spy on possible adulterous partners and watch the money come rolling in as suspicious lovers seek their services. Jack is a hero, driving around in a flash TVR and a hit with a high-flying new lady, Hannah (Harrison). Life is rosy for all the business partners, except maybe the one who hasn’t been laid in nearly a year and is the subject of a rather cruel prank keeping him that way. So far, so typically rom com as the smug lads lap up their success.

Then, just when it seems Heroes and Villains is going to develop a quirky tangent as Jack gets ready to introduce Hannah to his parents, writer and star Raymond veers so far off course the spiky set up is lost in favour of a blunt and soppy introspective of relationships. Sam questions the ethics involved in using the evidence they gain against the unsuspecting cheaters while Jack whimpers as he is told his life has become fake through the abundance of money he is now enjoying. Teary-eyed he embarks on a period of self-loathing that drags out the last third of the movie to include excruciating lines such as “I’m not good enough for you” and “they’ll always be someone better”. Coupled with all the visual style of a soap opera, Heroes and Villains gets bogged down by blandness despite the best efforts of the young actors.

If Raymond had not rushed so quickly to the point of Jack deciding his life was meaningless and kept a close focus on drawing out the laughs from the buddy situations which work well in the first half hour, Heroes and Villains would have been an enjoyably fun movie toying with the usually depressing subject of affairs and broken hearts in a novel way. When a fancy dress party sees characters dressed in costumes ranging from Poppa Smurf and Mel Gibson in Braveheart through to Darth Vader and Dracula, a few wry smiles might return to your face, but it is all a little late for any emotional involvement. Finishing with Jack’s voiceover claiming to have learnt the lessons of love such as “size doesn’t matter”, this slumps into pretty uninspiring stuff.

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