We’d all heard Chesty Charlie cough up his last one Sunday morning. It wasn’t pretty. He’d been going all night, each hack, rasp and wheeze sending signals down E Wing and a wave of fear up through A to D. And then, in the middle of breakfast, we all heard him stop.
Needless to say, we were in the mood for a rollicking good comedy about new life. As luck may have it, my boy had bought us all access to a cheery comedy, very British and very funny, starring Lucy Punch as barrister Olivia, Faye Marsay as her arty girlfriend Alex, and David Tennant as their neighbour with hipster beard and creepy intent, John. You, Me and Him.
The perfect antidote to an old soul and his emphysema being wheeled through reception, this had us laughing from the start. Weirdly, despite the youth on show, it is a fresh-yet-familiar take on the nightmare of the middle-aged house: pregnancy. The terrific and posh Punch wants to have a kid and starts the artificials behind her girlfriend’s back. Marsay’s creative and frightening-vulnerable Alex takes the news as anyone might, not entirely clear-sighted on her girlfriend’s entry to middle-aged panic, gets drunk at a party, and shags John.
Just accept it.
So begin a few scenes of confused identity, stressed relationship, and plot necessities. Set against some lovely locations (possibly Brighton, possible Stratford-on-Avon) and a sea of one-liners and comedy reveals, both Punch and Marsay turn out to be pregnant. And John, awkwardly, determines to be hippest dream-Dad of them all. Which, given they’re bouncing from parenting classes to an easily disgusted obstetrician, is like someone shoved Excalibur back into the rock. The rock being their relationship. It cracks a bit. Like a rock with a sword in it. I can explain that more slowly for the young amongst you.
You, Me and Him is huge fun. Punch is full of guilt, stress and jealousy. Marsay is flakey and angry – but the more mature in her instincts to bring John into their relationship. I loved them. Tennant is a mix of beardy, noble and venal, but just invasive enough to make the title meaningful. And the rest is comedy. Well, until it isn’t…
There are a ton of lovely cameos along the way. Gemma Jones and David Warner play Punch’s bemused parents with a hugely welcome lightness of touch. Don Warrington gives indifferent work friend and quality oldster – as focused on Olivia and Alex’s reality as Olivia’s vague parents… Sally Phillips nearly steals the movie as parenting expert with medicine balls and earnestness. Even Peter Davison pops up near the end to do lots with a bemused look. But Nina Sosanya pretty much wins as the appalled obstetrician. She had the whole room rocking with fresh laughter.
The plot is all that it can be, really. Pregnancies, complications, emotional shocks and potential recoveries. None of which really matters, as this is a lovely piece of fun. A sharp script, which only wavers when the edit runs ten minutes too long, it kept us all in a cheery mood, loving the work of Punch, Marsay and their collaborators. Everyone gets quality laughs, shot against blue skies, bright colours and beautifully decorated sets.
If you’re feeling a bit low, or just saw a friend wheeled out on a gurney, bung on You, Me and Him. It’s a modern tale, deftly made, with proper joy running through its comedy.
Richard Curtis has a successor…