Though director Chris Foggin’s FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is totally predictable, it is still a charming and delightful film. Based on the true story of 10 men, most of whom make their living fishing, who get together to perform sea shanties for fun or for charity, FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS reminds us of the importance of friendship and loyalty during these crazy times of Covid-19.
Four obnoxious music executives take off from London for a stag weekend in Cornwall. Following a portside concert by a group of local fishermen, Danny (Daniel Mays) is “ordered” by his boss, Troy (Noah Clarke), to get them signed to a contract. Danny thinks he’s serious (he’s not) and gets left behind by his so-called friends when they return to London as part of the joke.
One of the members of the singing group, Jim (James Purefoy), also runs a bed-and-breakfast with his adult daughter, Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), and her little girl, Tamsyn (Meadow Nobrega). Danny begs for a room as he continues his quest to convince these men, who want nothing to do with a recording contract.
He does everything he can to win them over, including spending a miserable day suffering from seasickness on Jim’s boat trying to prove just how serious he is. But once he does manage to persuade them, he learns that Troy only intended it as a prank, and now Danny must make good on his word or lose their trust entirely.
As I stated, all of this is fairly predictable, especially Danny’s epiphany about monogamy and marriage as he falls in love with Alwyn. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter, because FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is altogether enjoyable and quite humorous. Despite the wide age range of this group, from 36 to 68, these
hard-working men come together to sing folk songs with pure joy and remarkable camaraderie. And even if sea shanties aren’t your favorite, the voices and the harmony make FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS a worthwhile experience.
Mays plays Danny, the “tosser” according to Alwyn, perfectly. From being set up by his mates in the first place, to learning to love the fishermen’s music, he gets punishment from all sides. But he takes it all in pretty good humor, while appreciating the lesson of what is most important in life. There is an ongoing gag in the movie about car parking and high tides, which catches Danny in the end. David didn’t see it coming --- typical.
Screenwriters Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth did take liberties with the real story. The group was originally discovered by a BBC Radio DJ and his manager. Nine of the original members grew up in Port Isaac, where the film was shot. And for those of you who are fans of “Doc Martin”, Port Isaac is also Portwenn, the fictional town in that popular TV show. It obviously is a very magical place. FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is available On Demand and digital July 24th.
Opinion: See It Now!
Odds are you’ve never heard of a little film called FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS, but this British comedy/musical is a winner --- and it will be available On Demand and digital July 24th.
A small group of Cornish fishermen living in the tiny town of Port Isaac, England, get through their busy workday, in part, by singing sea shanties on their fishing boats. Their catchy tunes feature wonderful melodies and beautiful harmonies. FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS tells their (mostly) true story.
A visiting British music producer named Danny (Daniel Mays) is told by his boss, Troy (Noel Clarke), to sign a ragtag bunch of seamen to a record contract ---except that Troy is “pranking” him. Nevertheless, Danny follows his instincts and believes the 10-member acapella singers are good enough to cut a record and make some money. At first, the potential “buoy band” laughs at Danny, but ever persistent, he convinces the group’s skeptical leader, Jim (James Purefoy), that it really is possible. Mays is simply terrific in the role.
Jim also happens to have a lovely daughter named Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), to whom Danny is immediately attracted. Middleton does a nice job of playing hard to get, but predictably her character and Danny eventually hit it off.
Aside from the toe-tapping musical numbers, the film showcases some other naturally likeable characters, including Rowan (Sam Swainsbury), the youngest of the group with the sweetest voice and Jago (David Hayman), the elder statesman with a winning smile and sparkling personality. As viewers we connect with these folks and want them to achieve their dream.
There is a side story involving the sale of the local pub, center of the town’s culture, where Danny gets himself in some hot water. But the main draw of FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS largely depends on the uncertainty of a music deal due to non-believing record producers in London. After all, how could the “rock-and-roll of 1752” possibly appeal to 21st century music lovers?
I won’t reveal any more of the film’s plot, but I can share a couple of anecdotal facts. When Mays was initially approached to make the film, he was a bit confused and dismayed when he espied the script’s title because “Fisherman’s Friend” is also the brand name of cough drops in England.
The group itself eventually appeared on the main Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival --- this is a big deal in the UK. An average of 200,000 people descend upon the festival’s 100 total stages covering 900 acres (roughly triple the size of Woodstock) every year over five days. The festival is located about 125 miles west of London. Past performers have included The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Paul Simon, just to name a few.
And every Friday through the summer, the Fisherman’s Friends can be seen singing their sea shanties in Port Isaac to raise money for charity. So --- if you get a chance --- and we know you have the time --- catch FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS on TV.
It is a charming and rewarding experience.
Opinion: See It Now!