Screenwriter: William Davies
Starring: Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly, Bill Pullman, Harry Dean Stanton, Omid Djalili
Running time: 95 mins
Based on true events, Alien Autopsy is set in 1996 and tells the story of pals stallholder Ray (Donnelly) and Gary (McPartlin), a legal worker for a biscuit firm. With his trade in pirate DVDs and Elvis memorabilia hardly flourishing, Ray sells off Gary’s car to fund a trip to Cleveland to pick up sought-after Elvis knick-knacks. As well as some film of the King in action, the mysterious Harvey (Stanton) also sells them footage he took of an autopsy on an alien at Roswell in 1947. However, the international fame which their bounty at first promises is jeopardised when it transpires that the film has eaten itself. Determined not to let a potential fortune to slip away, they go about filming a remake in the hope that the world will be fooled.
What this film makes quite clear is that Ant and Dec aren’t versatile actors. They are great at what they do, which is light entertainment, but if they are to be the leads in a movie then it really needs to be tailor-made for them, which Alien Autopsy wasn’t. The pair are excellent at working off each other in the name of light comedy but here the cheeky banter expected from them never gets to see the light of day. They perform well enough with what they are given, which a script which just doesn’t play to their strengths.
Alien Autopsy is clearly directed as a comedy (by Shameless’ and Phoenix Nights’ Johnny Campbell) and many lines seem to be begging imploringly to be laughed at but they rarely convince the audience to do as they ask. It seems an eternity before there is any hint of a genuine laugh, the funniest part of the movie undoubtedly being the scene in which the duo reconstruct the autopsy with touches such as Dec’s nan offering biscuits over the fake corpse. However, after that the script again slips down the slope to banality, never really picking up again even at the unsatisfying climax. The screenplay itself isn't wholeheartedly a comedy, but then it never really convincingly threatens to be a drama.
It’s never quite clear who the target audience is, with a smattering of fairly unnecessary swearing and (more understandable) mild gore bumping up the certificate and alienating a sizeable chunk of Ant and Dec’s traditional following. Meanwhile, much of the humour seems like it may have hit home stronger with a younger demographic.
Alien Autopsy is ultimately a failed experiment in which Ant and Dec try their hands at feature film, failed more because of their not being used properly than poor performances. Hardly offering the laughs that their involvement, as well as that of Jimmy Carr (whose appearances amount to around a minute) would suggest, and not having the most enthralling of storylines the forgettable film loses interest of all but the most devoted a while before its short running time is over.