Cert PG 92mins Stars 3
After ruling the children’s book charts for over twenty years and dominated the TV schedules for a decade, the Horrible Histories team have set their sights on conquering the big screen with this amiable lightweight romp around Roman Britain.
It’s enjoyable enough and sticks closely to a strategy which has served so well in a lengthy campaign to subjugate the nation’s schoolchildren to the Horrible Histories super successful brand of historical facts, bodily fluid jokes and knockabout songs.
Sebastian Croft and Emilia Jones are the pleasant and fresh-faced leads, with he as a Roman teen sent to Britain as punishment where he’s captured by her feisty Celtic wannabe warrior.
Well known faces such as Nick Frost and Lee Mack pop up, though notably the bigger names such as Warwick Davis and Derek Jacobi are only cameo appearances.
Liverpool born actress Kim Cattrall adds a touch of class as Emperor Nero’s mother, and is game for a laugh. And while her absence from the big screen has been a loss for us all, at least this is closer to reality and a lot more fun than 2010’s Sex and the City 2.
Considering the long-lasting impact the gadabout and blood-thirsty Romans had on Britain, and for which we have exhaustive knowledge, this is never horrible or historical enough.
And it feels as if a TV episodes worth of material has been stretched to fill the movie’s length, with the script failing to up its game to compensate for the lack of a Hollywood budget.
With crushing inevitability the best gag is a riff on Kirk Douglas’ Roman gladiator classic, Spartacus, and with the rest of the gags relying heavily on a mix of music and teenage hormones, joke quality-wise this is feels more like kid-friendly Carry On Cleo, or could possibly be retitled, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sixth Forum.