Fisherman’s Friends Review

Fisherman's Friends

Sea shanties primarily became popular in pop culture due to the popularity of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. However, it has not gained as much popularity in the music scene. Yet in the UK, a shanty singing band called the Fisherman’s Friends reached the top 10 on the UK charts. Their story was so unlikely that it was ripe for a movie adaptation. 

Much like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the movie doesn’t quite tell the story of the subject you’re expecting. It focuses more on the music executive that discovered the band than the band themselves. Fisherman’s Friends is still a delightful feel-good movie that’ll grab you hook, line, and sinker. 

Fisherman’s Friends follow Danny, a music executive from London. While out at a colleague’s stag weekend, he discovers a group of shanty singing fishermen. Little does he know that this group of fishermen will forever change his life.  

Despite what the trailers would lead you to believe, Fisherman’s Friends is neither an underdog story nor a biopic. In reality, Fisherman’s Friends is about the transformation and growth of Danny. Weirdly, Danny’s character arc shares certain parallels with Ebenezer Scrooge’s arc in A Christmas Carol. He’s a man who has everything success and riches, yet, like Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, he eventually learns that he’s never had anything really at all. The movie’s structure is engineered so that as Danny becomes aware of his own selfishness and jadedness, he begins to fill the emptiness inside of him by becoming a selfless human being. 

The biggest issue with Fisherman’s Friends is that the movie tries to shoehorn into this movie the band’s underdog tale too. Even though Danny’s growth and the band’s rise to success go hand-in-hand, it never feels like that. The movie doesn’t let the audience know who the group is. The only characters we get to know are those with a direct connection to Danny. Essentially, the band and the music become a side character to support Danny’s ambition for growth. Not to mention, this lack of focus on the movie is about has led to a bloated one hour and 51-minute runtime.

Despite these issues, Chris Foggin still created a movie that is warm and full of heart. The use of sea shanties and modern folk-rock enhances the mood and feeling of a scene. The music helped make the movie more enjoyable since everything worked so well. Foggin also gives his actors plenty of opportunities to put his characters in a likable light. After all, the movie doesn’t work if these characters are not people you care for.

A lot of that comes from the three principal actors in the movie. Daniel Mays transitions well from being a prick to a sweet and caring person. That being said, there are several times where it’s hard to believe that he’s a music executive. Mays doesn’t have that presence and aggressive attitude that most executives have within his performance. As a result, he’s not really believable as an executive. Yet he is totally believable as a lovable guy who is trying to do good. 

James Purefoy gives a commanding yet vulnerable performance as Jim. He has a protective presence as the leader of the band and as a father to Alwyn. In a way, he serves as an antagonist because he becomes Danny’s biggest obstacle in reaching his goal. This is why it’s perfectly okay for Purefoy to steal the scene away from Mays.

Tuppence Middleton’s sweet and charming performance shouldn’t go unnoticed. Alwyn is one of the most important characters in the entire movie, and Middleton handles that pressure with ease. She effortlessly charms her way into the audience’s heart, and in turn, into Danny’s heart. 

Overall, Fisherman’s Friends is a delightfully feel-good movie anchored by the catchy music and the performance of the cast. That being said, it’s still disappointing to see that it put more focus on Danny than on the titular band. This blending of themes should’ve gone hand-in-hand, but instead, the movie became an uneven mishmash. Maybe we’ll finally get a taste of that underdog tale in the upcoming sequel.

Fisherman’s Friends is available On Demand and Digital July 24, 2020

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

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