Bill (2015) Review

Horrible Histories Bill Poster
Title: Bill
Director: Richard Bracewell
Starring: Matthew Baynton
Simon Farnaby
Martha Howe- Douglas
Ben Willbond
Laurence Rickard
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 mins
Music: Andrew Hewitt
Studio: BBC Films
Certificate: UK: PG
Release Date: UK: 18/09/2015
See If You Like: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The first feature film brought to us by the team behind the hit Horrible Histories TV series is a retelling of the origins of Shakespeare.

When we first meet Shakespeare, or Bill as he is known in the movie he is a failing 30 year old musician who as his wife puts it, needs to grow up. Adamant that he is destined for greater things however he sets off to London to become a playwright. Whilst this is taking place in sleepy Stratford Upon Avon there is an on-going struggle between Queen Elizabeth of England and King Phillip the Second of Spain.

In an attempt to come to some sort of peaceful resolution the Queen has decided to perform a play for Phillip and some of his men to highlight the strength of the arts in England. Unfortunately for the Queen she doesn’t at first have anybody in her Kingdom who can actually write, that is until the Earl of Croyden/Crawley declares he can. One thing leads to another and Bill finds himself in the mix of all these shenanigans, inadvertently helping King Phillip in a plot to kill the Queen.

Bill succeeds in exactly the same way the Horrible Histories TV show has done so many times in the past. It manages to have the perfect mix of childish humour and wit to entertain both young and old alike, whilst simultaneously educating them as well. This is no easy achievement but Bill manages to pull it out of the hat time and time again.

The performances across the board are all pretty darn funny, whilst the set and costume design feels reminiscent of the the Monty Python films. This isn’t the whole comparison to be drawn with the Python gang however; as the film often makes references to their movies, especially The Holy Grail; with certain sequences having a very python-esque feel to them.

Like Python and in many ways the Blackadder series Bill connects with an adult audience by taking well known historic events and supposing what would have happened had day to day mishaps intervened.

Bill is one of the best surprises to hit cinemas this year so far and certainly one of the funniest. It will also make you want to revisit the works of Shakespeare, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Liam Hoofe@LiamHoofe.

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