Anyone who grew up with Frank Sidebottom’s regular appearances on Granada TV in the 1980s and 90s will be sorely disappointed if they expect this film to be about him.
Frank was the papier-maché-masked creation of comedian and musician Chris Sievey.
His DIY ethic and spontaneous enthusiasm infected all he did. His influence can be seen in most Northern comedy of the last 20 years and connects back to a history of music hall and variety.
But the filmmakers insisted that “the reality of Sievey would undermine the mystery of Sidebottom”.
Instead they replace his warmth and humour with cleverness to tell the story of a fictional band in the present.
It is told from the point of view of bass player Jon—allegedly the only sane character—and written by Sidebottom’s real ex-band member Jon Ronson.
The film tries to explore the relationship between creativity and mental health. But it does so through cliches, stereotypes and some highly derivative scenes.