It’s impossible not to wish that Burke & Hare were better, and there are oh so very many ways in which it might have been. It’s a ghoulish historical comedy about the notorious Edinburgh body-snatchers. Wait, did I say comedy? Watching it, I was stricken with doubt.
There’s precisely one proper laugh. Paul Whitehouse has a one-scene cameo as a tottering waster who gets violently shoved down some stone steps, appears to snap every bone in his body, and then gets up burbling apologies and staggers off. Sorry to spoil that. Tim Curry has some nice moments of patrician deadpan as a snooty surgeon. That’s about the extent of the credit column.
Trouble is, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, as the titular duo, are stuck at the thoroughly mirthless business end of proceedings, trying to make a go of the corpse-collection business for their eager patron, Dr Knox (Tom Wilkinson).
We await delivery of a point, but the point postmaster must have gone on strike.
The usually appealing Isla Fisher, as a feisty bar wench with her hand in Pegg’s pockets, proves that you can be born in Scotland and still comprehensively forget what a Scottish accent sounds like. If you like fog and slop, you do get your money’s worth, but it’s a long time since John Landis has directed anything that isn’t an out-and-out misfire, and this doesn’t end the run.