Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose (2023)

Skeptical parapsychologist Nandor Fodor (Simon Pegg) is asked to investigate the story of Gef (Neil Gaiman), a supposed talking mongoose on the Isle of Man by fellow researcher Harry Price.

NANDOR FANDOR is a film that annoys me. It should have been great and not merely good. I love a a lot of it. The performances are super, I don't think Minnie Driver has ever been this good (she completely disappears into her role). A lot of the sequences are very well done...there is a sense that if this was more focused hands this could have been a truly great film instead of just a good one.

The problem here is the film feels like some one mashed four different versions of the same story together  and this was the result.

Outside of the names of the characters and the fact that Fodor did go to investigate, nothing in this film is really what happened. Fodor never heard, nor saw Gef, let alone got telephone calls from him. I say that up front because you maybe curious as to what is real and what isn't. The truth is despite being a news story that was in the papers for years, not  a lot of people ever saw or heard Gef and there was and is some speculation that ventriloquism may have been employed. I am mentioning this up front so that you don't do what I did which was search out all the information I could as soon as the film was done.

A minor part of the film is mucks with the accents of several of the characters. Fodor while American was born and raised in Hungry and spoke with a heavier accent. While Pegg's performance is otherwise fine, his shifting accent isn't. Christopher Lloyd is Harry Price a British paranormal investigator but there is no attempt to make him British. It made me wonder why Pegg bothered. As for Neil Gaiman's Gef  I have no idea what the hell they were doing since sometimes he is on helium, sometimes he sounds like a Chipmunk, and other times I have no idea. His performance is great but how he sounds is all ever changing.

The bigger problem with the film is the film's tone is all over the place. Is this a straight story? Is this a comedy? Why do you have a serious discussion of things then a guy dropping his trousers? Portions of this play like a theater piece and some of this is a movie. The Lloyd/Pegg and Pegg Driver discussions are different then the scenes with everyone else. The film clearly is trying to say something about belief and perception, after all it signals that in the opening minutes, but the same time it's sending it up. Clearly writer director Adam Sigal saw something in this tale that made him want to alter history to tell the story this way I don't know what it is.

Speaking of writing does anyone know if Neil Gaiman wrote his lines as Gef? I know things like Yeats  were not his, but there are other sections that read completely alien to everything else. I've been reading Gaiman's work for decades and Gef's turns of phrase are closer to his writing then anything else in the script.

I'm frustrated by the all over nature of this film. Yes chunks of it are great but it doesn't hang together. It's worth a look at some point if the subject interests you.

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