Making Dave’s teenage self (Brenock O’Connor) the lead is one of the biggest reasons this film pulls off its breezy tone. O’Connor finds just the right balance for depicting Dave’s Bromley-centric worldview, ensuring he conveys the awkwardness of youth without verging into naivete. Rather, his arc is cast as a classic coming-of-age journey, as we watch Dave’s confidence and ability to express himself grow by making friends through the club. Considering most viewers will probably recognise O’Connor from his time on Game of Thrones, it’s a pleasant surprise to see him simply have fun and show his range.
While some of the supporting cast suffer from a lack of material, the few who are given ample opportunity to share scenes with O’Connor are just as entertaining. I was particularly impressed by Jamie Foreman as Bromley owner Charlie McQueen, a character who initially comes across as a one-dimensional villain with no regard for Dave and other fans. McQueen’s perspective is ultimately revealed in the third act, but he’s a welcome presence long before then thanks to Foreman’s exaggerated, flustered delivery and comedic timing. Savannah Baker shows a similar talent as McQueen’s daughter Ruby, though using her primarily for a forced romantic subplot felt like wasted potential. However, this pales in comparison to the underdeveloped roles given to Alan Davies and Martine McCutcheon, two demonstrably funny people, who play Dave’s parents yet are barely seen.
Meanwhile, the film’s 1960s setting is captured perfectly, with the production’s warm and nostalgic approach serving as an ideal complement for the script’s tone. British filmmakers always seem to nail the technical aspects of period pieces and THE BROMLEY BOYS is no exception. From obvious era-appropriate details like the club’s uniforms and equipment, to locations such as the McQueens’ house which are only seen briefly, there’s a sense that the designers look back on the decade with as much fondness as Dave himself. For instance, Dave’s bedroom is filled with Bromley memorabilia both official and handmade, quaint yet specific flourishes emblematic of how easy it is to immerse yourself and simply enjoy the film’s world.
Unfortunately, the film’s story is the only element where it disappoints, struggling to provide an interesting catalyst for the characters and jokes. This is hardly a golden rule for comedy, since there have been plenty of successful films where nothing substantial happens (see Clerks). Yet in the case of THE BROMLEY BOYS, the plot which ultimately emerges is contrived and wafer-thin. Essentially, Dave finds evidence suggesting the club’s best player is being transferred, only for the rumour he inadvertently starts to snowball in unbelievable ways. Likewise, the quasi-twist used to raise the stakes in the third act requires a huge suspension of disbelief and makes Dave look recklessly inconsiderate.
Thankfully, the rest of the film makes such a strong impression that my issues with its story can be overlooked. THE BROMLEY BOYS is plain and simple fun, suitable for anyone who can relate to passionate fandom, or viewers who just want to switch off and laugh.