All We Have To Fear ...
Poor Jack! Fear has gripped his very soul, making it hard for him to function in A Fantastic Fear of Everything, a dark comedy starring Simon Pegg. With such a promising theme and a funny lead actor like Pegg, this movie should be a big hit. So what went wrong? I think the film just got out of control. Jack (Pegg) runs around his messy apartment in his dirty underwear during most of the movie. He jumps at every sound; his hand accidentally gets glued to a large knife; and he’s convinced someone is out to kill him. But this frenzied activity goes on much too long and becomes quite irritating.
Still, we can’t help wondering how an author of children’s books ended up in such a paranoid state. Evidently, Jack’s first mistake involved taking on an assignment to research Victorian serial killers for a book titled “Decades of Death.” Now suffering from an irrational fear of being murdered, he is also deathly afraid of laundrettes (laundromats). But when his agent (Clare Higgins) sets up a meeting for him with a mystery man who wants to make a film out of his book, Jack reluctantly agrees. Unfortunately, he must first wash some clothes to wear, and this means going to a dreaded laundrette.
All this is a big problem for Jack, who can hardly bear to leave his apartment. What happens when he does, takes up the last part of the movie -- which is almost as annoying as the first. But at least we learn the origin of his laundrette phobia.
Most of us understand fear is a powerful force that can alert us when real danger is near. And we also know that a laundrette is not normally a dangerous place. Jack, however, experienced something in his childhood that caused him to become abnormally fearful of that place and its automatic washing machines. Although the film’s laundrette scenes come across as somewhat interesting to watch, they’re mostly silly.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything boasts a unique look, especially the part taking place in Jack’s apartment. Unusual dark-hued cinematography emphasizes Jack’s emotional state and sets the tone for his misadventure(s). I also found the animated “Harold the Hedgehog” inserts amusing and clever -- but too short.
My major disappointment here involves the miscasting of Pegg as Jack. He’s usually wonderful on screen. Just check out Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. But his performance in this comedy bears more resemblance to his unfunny appearance on the Jimmy Fallon TV show as a drunken adult Ron Beasley (the Harry Potter franchise) or to Carrot Top in just about anything.
(Released by Cinedigm Entertainment and rated “R” by MPAA.)
For more information about A Fantastic Fear of Everything, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes site.