Being a successful British comedy does not always guarantee film success. The Inbetweeners, Ab Fab, and Mr Bean all made millions at the box office; but for every triumph there’s a cautionary tale – Alan Patridge’s Alpha Papa and The Bad Education Movie had muted responses, while David Brent’s solo project lost millions. Hoping to be in the positive column is People Just Do Nothing.
The BBC comedy show, inspired by The Office, follows the fortunes of pirate radio station Kurupt FM, broadcasting Garage and Drum and Bass to a smattering of listeners in Brentford. The show was a big hit across several platforms in the 2010s, and now comes to the big screen with People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan.
The film reunites with the Kurupt FM crew, now dispersed since the closing of the station. Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudry) lives out of a van, while MC Grindah (Allan ‘Seapa’ Mustafa) is a postman, and collaborator/best friend MC Beats (Hugo Chegwin) bothers his boss/step-son at a bowling alley. None are particularly happy to see the return of a documentary crew into their lives, until they realise it’s because one of Kurupt FM’s songs has become a viral hit in Japan, where it has been used for a game show. The trio, along with cohorts Steves and Decoy (Steve Stamp and Dan Sylvester) head to the country, where success and cultural difference quickly begin to wreak havoc among the group.
The story will be familiar to anyone who has seen a TV-to-screen adaptation before: familiar characters sent on a trip to a wildly different location. The Inbetweeners went on holiday (twice), Patsy and Edie went on the run across Europe, even David Brent toured Berkshire. The execution is equally similar, with many of the jokes being at the expense of our rude boy heroes and their cultural ignorance. We see them completely misinterpreting every local custom, and living the rock star lifestyle in front of bemused crowds.
It’s light and often quite funny. The gormless Steves has the best subplot, as he ingests too many drugs on the plane (“know your limit… and take EXACTLY that amount”), and embarks on an adorably clumsy flirtation with assistant Miki (Hitomi Souno). Elsewhere, Grindah’s wife Lady Miche (Lily Brazier) gets left behind, and recreates Japan in a friend’s house to fool her Instagram followers.
Despite People Just Do Nothing’s familiar formula, the charisma of the cast makes the journey enjoyable. Anyone who came of age around the early 2000s will know someone like Grindah and Beats, garage fans with more bravado than bars who are always on the cusp of greatness in their minds. Chaudry is on his own adventure after Chabuddy G gets pushed out of the group’s plans by manipulative Japanese manager Taka (Ken Yamamura). He’s wonderfully absurd, pretending everything is going well to the cameras when clearly chaos is imminent (his attempt to run out on an expensive bar tab is a highlight).
Like every other movie spin-off, People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is for people who can’t get enough of these characters. Even in a story that feels like Spinal Tap lite, their antics will ensure the fanbase will get what they paid for.
People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is in cinemas now.