Film review: Bill

From the team that brought you all those Horrible Histories clips you keep repeating on YouTube, as well as that Sky comedy Yonderland that you’ve been meaning to watch comes Bill, a film whose trailer was one of the most enjoyable things I saw in the cinema for a while, but which then entirely passed me by.  I finally caught up with it via the power of streaming and I’m very glad I did. For smart silliness Bill is hard to beat.

Scripted by Ben Willbond and Laurence Rickard who, along with Matthew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas and Jim Howick, play multiple roles in a twisting, turning plot which imagines how Bill Shakespeare went from being an unwanted member of Stratford pub band Mortal Coil to the Queen’s favourite playwright. Suffice to say the journey involves Spanish intrigue, Cockney impersonators, Christopher Marlowe, dressing up as a vegetable and ‘your mum’. I laughed a lot. No one is in quite so much filth as Horrible Histories seemed to revel in but there are a few more grown-up jokes, “Look at that sexy woman in trouble” is one observation that CBBC might not have sanctioned.

It all races through in about ninety minutes with the joke rate not dropping at any point. If you don’t laugh at one another will be along probably in the next sentence. The hit rate is high. As you can tell, I’m a fan. It’s so good it’s even making me feel bad for not setting the Sky+ up to capture Yonderland, although we’ll always have those Horrible Histories songs on YouTube.

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