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The Martins
cast: Lee Evans, Kathy Burke

director: Tony Grounds

85 minutes (15) 2001
Icon VHS rental
Also available to buy on DVD

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Robert Martins is a man without a place in the world. No job, no money, no respect from his waspish mother-in-law or upwardly mobile neighbours. His son is bullied at school, and his 14-year-old daughter is pregnant. He's staked everything on winning a dream holiday competition in the local paper - and he's just heard that someone else has won. Oh, and his old mate is about to get out of prison and discover that Robert slept with his wife. Definitely time to leave. But his only way out is those holiday tickets - and he plans to get them, no matter what it takes...
   The Martins is advertised as a comedy, but if it is, it's the blackest of black comedies. The continual parade of humiliations that is Robert's life is too vicious to get more than a nervous laugh. Perhaps it's best viewed as a satirical drama with a warm, though not overly sentimental, heart.
   Lee Evans plays admirably straight as a good man whose best efforts are always doomed, and Kathy Burke, who can probably play this kind of role in her sleep by now, gives admirable support. The script, however, never builds to the heights either of drama or of comedy that the idea suggests, and the ending is strangely low-key, leaving us unsure how Robert has been changed by his experiences. The uncertainty of tone makes the film less satisfying than it could have been, but it�s still an interesting idea well worth a look.