Burke & Hare (Siff 2011)

Burke & Hare [ UK (English), 2010, 91 minutes ]
Director: John Landis
Principal Cast: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tim Curry, Christopher Lee, Jessica Hynes
See it: June 4, 6, 11, 12 at SIFF

Burke & Hare is a comedy well-rooted in the style of traditional British dryness and absurdity, and it delivers the laughs well. Who but the British could pull comedic pearls out of a grave-robbing, corpse-delivering duo? Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are a perfect pair of down-on-their-luck friends who happen into a new career of corpse-dealing when their elderly tenant dies of old age and they happen to hear about the local medical school needing corpses for the study of anatomy. Hilarity ensues as the duo attempt to find enough corpses to deliver on the demand, and they also begin living the highlife with their new-found income. Of course no scheme like this can last forever, and the ending seems fitting for the characters.

Overall Entertainment / Enjoyment: A-
It’s hard to go wrong with Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, and Tim Curry – so the laughs are plentiful, if not a bit morbid (is it bad to laugh at finding inventive ways to “make” a corpse?) and definitely British. It was a nice, somewhat mainstream comedy that provided a light break in the usually heavier festival fare.

Siff Provided Synopsis
Scotland, 1828. Edinburgh is the center of modern medical learning. On one side of the city is Barclay’s School of Anatomy, run by the esteemed, and very nattily dressed, Dr. Know; on the other side, Scotland’s Royal College of Surgeons, presided over by the cheerfully sadistic Dr. Monroe. Fortunately, the city is also blessed with the finest collection of thieves, murderers, and lowlifes providing the colleges with a steady stream of corpses direct from the city’s gallows. But when Dr. Monroe uses his political influence to corner the supply of legitimate cadavers, Dr. Knox must turn to alternative sources to procure his teaching aids. Enter Messrs. Burke & Hare—roguish entrepreneurs par excellence. At first, the pair turns to the exhumation trade, but when they run afoul of the local constabulary, it soon becomes clear there are more expedient ways to earn their pay. Starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, Burke & Hare features an all-star British comedic cast, including Pegg’s Spaced co-star Jessica Hynes, while director John Landis returns to form, employing the same black humor and sardonic wit found in An Amerian Werewolf In London to craft, once again, a superb example of gallows humor.

 

Provided Film Synopsis

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