Narrated by the legendary Clint Howard (EVILSPEAK), LONDON BETTY begins in the small American town of Pharisee.
Here, Howard's voiceover introduces us to failed robbers Billy (Thomas Seymour) and Serj Tankjan-lookalike Volgo (Russ Russo), along with their hooker friend Jess (Margaret Rose Champagne). Billy and Volgo only steal from porches and yards. A perfect introduction to their ineptitude shows follows them bungling the theft of a portable CD player and a pool skimmer one afternoon.
Afterwards, the boys meet with Jess for drinks in their local bar. It's Billy's birthday and this leads to him moaning about not having a woman in his life. Howard confirms that for these people, there is something missing from their lives.
Enter Betty (Nicole Lewis), a new resident in Pharisee who's moved from London to pursue her dream of becoming a top journalist. Unfortunately the job she's landed is for the local Gazette, where agoraphobic boss Maury (Daniel von Bargen) refuses to meet with her and gives her shit stories to cover.
Having just moved to this strange place to discover her job sucks and her neighbour is a peeping Tom, Betty's pet rabbit then goes missing. She spends her first night in Pharisee downhearted.
The following morning Betty sticks a "missing" poster up offering a reward for the rabbit's safe return. Billy sees this and, being the type of guy who'll do anything for a buck (he also runs a website catering for those who like used panties), he tracks the beast down and arranges to meet Betty at a local café.
Following a case of mistaken identity, Betty becomes intrigued by Billy's brutish nature and stalks him, her keen nose sensing there may be a story here. She witnesses him steal a barbecue from a garden and then observes from behind bushes as he sells it on to the unscrupulous town Mayor, Plumb (Dick Boland).
While unaware that Plumb is actually busy employing thugs to help him go about his corrupt business using taxpayers' money to build a legally dubious extension on his home, Betty still senses that he's somehow up to no good. Excitedly, she tracks down Maury at his home and tells him she has a hot story about Plumb. Maury warns her off, telling of how his previous run-in with the Mayor has left him scared to leave his house.
But Betty isn't so easily dissuaded and she sets off to Billy's house where she hopes to learn more about the dastardly Mayor. Of course, this may involve her having to climb into some lingerie and pose for Billy's website first …
From there, Betty takes to snooping on Plumb's property. This is a bad move. Plumb catches her and has his karate-obsessed henchman steal her rabbit. Plumb holds the pet hostage and promises to kill it if Betty writes anything negative about him.
So, it's back to Billy she goes. Betty knows he's familiar with the Mayor's shadier tendencies and hopes he can break into Plumb's house to save the rabbit. Will he even agree to? Perhaps after a few drinks and a kiss, he may soften …
One rescue mission leads to another, and then another, as events spiral into even more silliness in Thomas Edward Seymour's latest bad taste comedy (previous efforts include THE LAND OF COLLEGE PROPHETS and BIKINI BLOODBATH CAR WASH).
Here, Seymour appears to be working with a slightly bigger budget and it shows aesthetically. The visuals are very agreeable indeed, boasting rich hues of bright garish colours and sunny exteriors that afford the film a consistently upbeat feel.
The music adds to the vibe further: an intriguing mix of classical pieces from the likes of Bach and Tchaikovsky, and rousing summery rock songs from a plethora of artistes such as The Rideaways, Baby Boot Box and Kevin McLeod).
The pace is fast, the gags are rude but harmless (even 'cruel' sight gags such as when Billy knocks a cripple off his walking frames can't disguise the goodwill of the filmmakers) and frequently amusing, while the performances are likeable throughout.
Okay, there are limitations that your average Blockbuster customer may not tolerate - some of the peripheral performers are questionable; the humour exceeds the scatological at times and becomes TOO overtly stupid - but the energy and charisma with which it's all delivered is hard not to love.
Lewis is a find. Not only is she gorgeous and capable of a flawless London accent, but she provides the warm centre of the film. She adds heart, a depth to her character that saves the film from becoming a hollow, fart-obsessed rib-tickler.
Come the end, you realise that Seymour has matured as a writer by some estimation. Yes, the jokes are puerile and there's still a host of nubile bikini-clad women to enjoy for little reason other than they look nice (always a pleasure), but there's also a heart-warming pay-off that ties the whole loose concept of friendship up nicely. Bringing Volgo and Jess back into the film in the latter stages was a sweet touch and, although never sentimental, you do get the feeling that this is Seymour's most personal film to date.
Slick, accomplished, funny, dumb, smart, rude … LONDON BETTY is all of these. It's also curiously moving, which is perhaps it's greatest achievement.
An attractive animated main menu page opens up this advance screener disc, offering the film and it's trailer as the only extra.
The film looks superb in a rich anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation. Colours are vibrant and images jump off the screen, such is the clarity on offer. It's a sterling transfer, rounded off nicely by a solid and consistent English 2.0 audio mix.
The trailer, at 1-and-a-half-minutes in length, does a good job of showcasing the film as being funny and irreverent. It's presented in 16x9 1.78:1.
The quality of the film's picture and audio, along with the trailer, bode well for the eventual DVD release. I'd imagine the usual array of Hale Manor extras will be present too, so it should be a strong release when it comes out.
So LONDON BETTY is daft, at times outrageous and obsessed with loud toilet gags. So what? It's hugely accomplished too. It looks good, it sounds good, the editing and pacing are more than professional and the looniness is now tempered by a heart starting to shine through. More polished than Seymour's previous outings but losing none of their wit or energy, it's definitely one to keep an eye out for.
For more info on release dates etc, visit the official site here.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Hale Manor|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|