‘The chances of this working out in our favour are very slim…’
CBBC programing was at its peak during the early part of this century. As a tween, then teen, I could get home from school at 4pm, switch on BBC and know that there would be something on that had designed with me in mind. Horrible Histories, M.I. High, Tracy Beaker, Sarah Jane Adventures, Young Dracula and Raven to name but a few.
Whilst CBBC is obviously still going with its own channel, it’s no longer the staple it once was. The students I teach talk more about Netflix than they do about CBBC. It’s something I found myself thinking a lot about whilst watching 2:Hrs. That’s because the film has the same pitch and tone as some of those shows; the same family friendly, light-hearted comedic sensibilities. It’s clear the film is aimed at the same audiences as those aforementioned shows and, whilst I’m clearly no longer that target audience, it’s refreshing to see something aimed at them once more.
Tim Edge (Harry Jarvis) is the kind of person who acts first and thinks later. Since his dad died he’s become a different person, more selfish, slack in everything he does and antagonistic – to his family at least. He’s still got his two close friends Vic (Ella Rae-Smith) and Alf (Alhaji Fofana) who have his back no matter what. When a school trip to the Natural History Museum no longer holds their attention, deciding to graffiti it instead, they stumble across a scientific experiment being overseen (via webcam) by investor Groad (Keith Allen) and attended by journalists Tooley (Seann Walsh) and Graves (Marek Larwood). A scientist called Lena Eidelhorn (Siobhan Redmond) has invented a machine that can diagnosis when someone will die – and it’s decided that Tim only has 2:hrs left to live…
2:Hrs isn’t perfect. It’s littered with one dimensional stereotypes, plot points that either don’t make total sense or aren’t fully explained, , performances of varying quality and some groan-worthy dialogue. And yet… there’s something about it that appeals to my sense of nostalgia, when 14 year old me would sit down at 4pm armed with a cup of tea and four biscuits and watch whatever CBBC had to offer. I’ve written on this blog before about how a film has a fundamental choice to make – to play it safe or play it ambitious. 2:Hrs has its fair share of ambition. It’s central concept – what would you do if you found out you were going to die? – is one that has been teasing us for centuries. Here it’s made more than accessible and easy to identify with. It introduces a new audience to a relatively profound and deep question in a light-hearted way. Albeit in the format of a slightly overlong after-school special…
The central performances are fine. It’s the supporting ones that steal the scenes they’re in. Allen plays himself – as he has always done – which remains as entertaining as ever. Walsh and Larwood make for an excellent duo – my favourite line/s being Larwood’s ‘When is lunch? What is lunch? Does lunch exist?’ There’s also a creepy CGI bug called Monty who lives in a matchbox; the film gives very little explanation about that, which makes things all the more unsettling.
2:Hrs is being released at the perfect time. Any parents out there who reach summer holiday fatigue; this is a family friendly film that will provide you with the brief respite you need.
2:Hrs is available to watch on Digital Download from 30th July.