31 May 2023

Review: Bank Of Dave

From At The Movies, 7:08 pm on 31 May 2023

I’d never heard of Bank of Dave until it turned up at the cinemas this week. But that’s because I don’t watch a lot of reality TV. 

The original Bank of Dave was an “observational series” about a businessman called Dave Fishwick who wanted to start a small bank in Burnley, Lancashire.   His argument was that he couldn’t do worse than the professionals.

Dave’s beef was that the people who pretty much caused the global meltdown 16 years ago then had the cheek to award themselves massive bonuses, as if they’d done a good job.

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Photo: Supplies

 So, Dave decided to set up a bank for the community.

The success of the TV series inspired interest in a movie. And, being movie folk, the producers of the new Bank of Dave decided to improve on the documented facts.

Enter the totally fictitious young lawyer, Hugh, played by Joel Fry, who’s sent to Burnley to take advantage of the locals. 

What, you mean like classic feelgood movie Local hero?  Exactly…

Hugh meets Dave, a lovable northern chap with a dream. That’s when he’s not down the local karaoke bar, singing old Def Leppard songs. 

You may wonder whether this is going somewhere.   Don’t you worry. Everything in Bank of Dave is going somewhere.

Up in Burnley, Hugh the lawyer meets the gorgeous Alexandra, who’s not only trying to raise money for a much-needed clinic, but is also Dave’s niece. 

You may have spotted the similarity to other old, feelgood movies like Brassed off.  Is there a chance that Alexandra and Hugh might hit it off at some stage?

There’s every chance. Remember what I said before about most things in Bank of Dave being there for a purpose?  

Though I warn the producers that if all the blokes start getting their kit off and going The full Monty, I’m leaving.

No fear of that, though just about everything else from every working-class, British, feelgood movie ever made seems to have been thrown in the pot. 

First of all, we meet a bunch of salt-of-the-earth folk of Burnley, all dripping with rough-diamond decency.  The sort of thing you don’t get down in that London, as Hugh mentions regularly.

But to really lay this on with a trowel - and Bank of Dave is all about laying everything on with a trowel - we need some Big City Ratbags.

In this case it’s a rare heavy role for the normally decent Lord Downton, Hugh Bonneville.

No new bank has received a license for decades, and the Regulation Board will bend over backwards to make sure Honest Dave doesn’t get one either. 

To do that, they resort to skullduggery, legal manipulation and the worst kind of insider trading to make sure Dave, Hugh and Alexandra don’t get what they deserve.

Dave, incidentally, is played by the modestly likable Rory Kinnear – son of Lancashire comedy star Roy.

Rory certainly looks the spit and image of Dave Fishwick. But you suspect his Dad would have been a better fit for the character.  

The real-life Dave Fishwick is bumptious, confident, and larger than life – a natural comedian, rather than a serious, former Shakespearean actor.

The actual story of the Bank of Dave was so enjoyable and entertaining, it really didn’t need all the fake, feelgood movie cliches it gets here. And yes, it really does end with Def Leppard popping up to stage a concert to save Dave. 

Surely not like the cheesy old Cliff Richard movie, The Young Ones?   Indeed…

The fact is, the naming and shaming of the banks’ appalling behaviour after the Global Financial Crisis that was highlighted by Dave Fishwick’s real-life bank, didn’t need the sweetening it received in the movie.

I like Rory Kinnear – I like most of the performers in Bank of Dave, including Def Leppard. But frankly they should have poured a little less sugar on it.

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