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Fisherman’s Friends review: A formulaic but thoroughly amiable and upbeat British comedy

Dir: Chris Foggin; Starring: Tuppence Middleton , James Purefoy, Christopher Villiers, Daniel Mays , Noel Clarke . Cert 12A, 112 mins. They’re funny, they look the part and they are singing copyright-free songs. That, one city slicker music business executive on a stag weekend in Cornwall decides, makes it worthwhile signing up the group of Port Isaac fishermen in chunky jumpers who sing shanty songs by the shore. Fisherman’s Friends is a formulaic but thoroughly amiable and upbeat British comedy with a flavour of Ealing Studios and The Full Monty about it. The plot which the screenwriters have cooked up seems almost an afterthought. The singing fishermen came first. The Fisherman’s Friends really were signed by a major record label, had a Top 10 hit, and turned into a full-blown media sensation. The film takes considerable liberties with their story, but fans of extra mature Cornish cheddar won’t be complaining.From extras.Daniel Mays (looking a little like a young George Cole as a spiv in a St Trinian’s film) is the music exec Danny who comes to Port Isaac with his obnoxious friends for the stag-do. The locals regard them with just as much hostility as you might expect. They’re “tossers”, “wankers from London”, the types who regard Cornwall as a place to buy a second home and visit once or twice a year at most. The tight-knit Port Isaac community doesn’t welcome strangers anyway.Troy (Noel Clarke), one of the Londoners, tricks Danny into trying to sign up the group. Cue the predictable comic scenes in the pub in which the music exec tests his snake oil salesman-style patter out on the fishermen and they gleefully ridicule him. Danny won’t give up, though. He has an added incentive for prolonging his time in town in the shape of Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), his landlady at the B&B where he is staying, and the daughter of one of the fishermen.Some of the jokes are very creaky. The script over-does the references to the gnarled old mariners as a “boy (or buoy) band with a combined age of 653” and to their traditional folk music as “the rock and roll of 1752”. At one stage, the singers put on dark glasses for no particular reason other than to set up a gag about them being ”reservoir sea dogs”.