Fisherman's Friends


Uk | 2019 | 112 mins | Cert 12A

Comedy, Drama, Musical

A fast living, cynical London music executive reluctantly heads to Cornwall on a colleague’s stag weekend where he’s pranked by his boss into trying to sign a group of shanty-singing fishermen. Attempting to overcome the fishermen’s scepticism about the music business, he finds himself drawn into the community, has his integrity tested and ultimately is shown the meaning of loyalty, love and friendship.

They’re funny, they look the part and they are singing copyright-free songs. That, one city slicker music business executive on a stag weekend in Cornwall decides, makes it worthwhile signing up the group of Port Isaac fishermen in chunky jumpers who sing shanty songs by the shore. Fisherman’s Friends is a formulaic but thoroughly amiable and upbeat British comedy with a flavour of Ealing Studios and The Full Monty about it. The plot which the screenwriters have cooked up seems almost an afterthought. The singing fishermen came first. The Fisherman’s Friends really were signed by a major record label, had a top 10 hit, and turned into a full-blown media sensation. The film takes considerable liberties with their story, but fans of extra mature Cornish cheddar won’t be complaining. Daniel Mays (looking a little like a young George Cole as a spiv in a St Trinian’s film) is the music exec Danny who comes to Port Isaac with his obnoxious friends for the stag do. The locals regard them with just as much hostility as you might expect. The tight-knit Port Isaac community doesn’t welcome strangers anyway. The performances are very likeable indeed. Old timers like Dave Johns (star of Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake) and David Hayman squeeze every last bit of humour and pathos from their roles as the singing sea dogs. The ditties themselves are put across with plenty of relish. Even a song as familiar as “Drunken Sailor” seems fresh when roared out in a London pub by the band. Independent on-line. 13 March 2019

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