Writer and director Dan Cadan reminisces about the golden age of British wrestling with his feature debut Walk Like a Panther, a so-called comedy set in Yorkshire. Mark Bolton (Stephen Graham) is the cheeky-chappy landlord of The Half Nelson, the local drinking den frequented by a group of former grapplers known as the Panthers. When the beloved pub’s future is threatened by devilish developer Paul Peterson (Stephen Tompkinson), Mark turns to his dad Trevor (Dave Johns) and the rest of the gang to save the day.
The jam-packed cast is mostly made up from faces of British soaps and sitcoms, and the narrative hops between flimsy subplots in a structure that resembles a sub-par sketch show. The film clearly doesn’t take itself seriously and is self-deprecating in its attempts at humour, but laughter is required to pull off parody, and there is very little to laugh about. The script is riddled with cringeworthy cliché, and the plot is preposterously poor.
Walk Like a Panther aims for the feel-good heights of plucky underdog movies such as The Full Monty and Brassed Off in its celebration of the country’s culture, but this is a lazy cheap shot to cinema. The bright-coloured fun of the subject matter lends itself to light-hearted entertainment, but this story nearly bored me into submission. In this wrestling encounter, the only real damage inflicted is to the reputations of everyone involved.