SXSW Film Review: Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break (2021, Nick Gillespie)

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Paul Dood is weird.

Paul Dood is likeable enough, but also prone to making you a bit uncomfortable.

Paul Dood starts out with relatively good intentions but eventually goes off the rails.

All of the above statements describe the character of Paul Dood, the protagonist of Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break, but in many ways, they also work as descriptions of the film itself.

Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break tells the story of a man on the edge, a hapless loser who just wants to be famous, but who, through a series of misfortunes, ends up bumbling his way through a lunch break full of bloodshed and general mayhem. It’s a strong premise and one that holds a lot of potential for dark comedy even if the end product does come out a bit uneven.

When his dreams of becoming famous through a reality TV singing competition are dashed, sad sack Paul Dood comes up with a plan for vengeance that ends up sort of working even though nothing quite goes as planned. The film tries to keep things fairly sweet and lighthearted while also dealing with some rather gruesome subject matter, resulting in a film that comes off as a combination of Falling Down and Eurovision. And yes, that blend is as odd and incongruous as you might think.

Tom Meeten is great in the lead role and is surrounded by a talented cast of players who all seem to be having a lot of fun with the material, but the story does fall a little short at times, culminating in a resolution that doesn’t feel entirely earned in the end. Also, why cast Katherine Parkinson in your film and then give her so little to do?

Still, there are enough likeable moments in the film (the tea ceremony scene and Kris Marshall’s role as an absolutely terrible priest are good for a couple laughs) and thanks to a pivotal scene, I had “Together In Electric Dreams” stuck in my head for a good while after viewing it (definitely not a bad thing in my books) so I guess Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break ultimately gets a tentative thumbs up from me.

Posted on by Paul in Movies, South By Southwest